Former Madidi Chef Joins Lenior Dining Program

OXFORD, Miss. – When the Lenoir Dining program at the University
of Mississippi resumes its restaurant-type service to the university
and surrounding community Tuesday (Sept. 16), a new chef with
impressive credentials will be at its helm.

Chef Lee Craven, who comes to the university from Morgan Freeman’s
restaurant Madidi in Clarksdale, joined the staff of the Department of
Family and Consumer Sciences last month. Craven has quickly found his
place in the department and says he is excited about several changes to
the program that will be implemented this year.

Lee Craven

Lee Craven said he is relishing the challenge of directing the Lenoir Hall program. UM photo by Nathan Latil.

Lenoir Dining is a required laboratory for UM students majoring in dietetics and in nutrition and hospitality management. The entire program operates under a point-of-sale system, which enables students to track sales, analyze data and learn how to operate the POS equipment. The laboratory was created to give students experience in all facets of restaurant operation, and that is one reason Craven gave up his gourmet chef job and turned to teaching.

“Students get real-life experience through this program,” he said. “They learn how to handle the front of the house, the back of the house and everything in between.

“I’ve always wanted to teach and this opportunity presented itself. So far, it’s been challenging but in a good way. I can see already that teaching is more challenging but it is also more rewarding.”

“Due to his exceptional credentials and experience, Chef Craven will help our students gain knowledge and develop skill sets in culinary applications that will give them a competitive edge in all health care, food service and hospitality industries,” said Teresa Carithers, FCS chair.

Craven graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and quickly landed an internship at Chez Phillipe at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. There he worked under Chef Jose Gutierrez, one of only 52 chefs in the U.S. certified as a Maitres Cuisiniers de France. Gutierrez created a position for Craven, who ultimately advanced to sous-chef, a position he held until signing as executive chef at Madidi in 2003.

Craven has been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Bon Appetit, Delta Magazine, Southern Living, Mississippi Magazine, Esquire Japan, the New York Times and the Boston Globe. In 2004, he was named a “Rising Star of American Cuisine” by the renowned James Beard Foundation. He has appeared on the Food Network with Rachael Ray, and he participated in the Julia Child Commemorative Dinner hosted by the James Beard Foundation.

Lenoir Hall Dining offers lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and dinner 6-7 p.m. Wednesdays. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 662-915-1863.

{xtypo?rounded?right3}This Week’s Menu

Mixed green salad with spicy ranch
Romaine hearts in red pepper Caesar dressing with Parmesan cheese
Wedge salad with blue cheese crumbles and bacon.

Coconut curried chicken with ginger and green peas, with basmati rice with coriander
Lemon grass-steamed salmon with mushroom risotto and honey & orange-glazed carrots
Vegan: Marinated grilled portabella with vegetable lo-mein with green peas, bell peppers & sesame oil

Chocolate cream puffs
{/xtypo?rounded?right3}The prices will vary slightly this year, as the restaurant will be offering a la carte options instead of an all-inclusive meal. This will allow customers to order only the food they want, and the program can offer a wider variety of options, Carithers said. Menus change from week to week, but every week will feature three entrees – one will be typical a la carte, another will be ethnically inspired and the third will be a vegetarian dish.

Look for menus each Monday in Inside Ole Miss (page 5 in the Daily Mississippian) or online at The opening week’s menu includes a choice of three salads – a mixed green salad with spicy ranch dressing; Romaine hearts in red pepper Caesar dressing with Parmesan cheese; and a wedge salad with blue cheese crumbles and bacon – three entrees – Coconut curried chicken with ginger and green peas, served with basmati rice with coriander; Lemon grass-steamed salmon with mushroom risotto and honey, and orange-glazed carrots; and Marinated grilled portabella with vegetable lo-mein with green peas, bell peppers and sesame oil – and two desserts – a parfait and chocolate cream puffs.

FCS, one of the university’s fastest growing departments, boasts an enrollment of 380 students, including 300 hospitality management majors and most of the remaining 80 dietetics/nutrition majors, Carithers said.

The dining program laboratory allows students to rotate through various positions within the operation, including customer service, quantity food preparation, management and marketing functions. Due to the program’s emphasis on quality and service, its graduates have been successful in moving into a diverse range of careers, including resort management, hotel management, restaurant and private practice ownership, event planning, sales, marketing and administration of health care food-service departments. A consistent percentage of the department’s graduates move into programs at culinary institutes as well.

For more information on the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, visit For more information or assistance related to a disability, call 662-915-1863.