100 Years of Elegant Entertaining

Menus and invitations from a century of entertaining at Eastcliff!

Edward and Markell Brooks were well known for their lavish parties at Eastcliff.

One of Markell’s menus in included below, as well as dishes or menus from events from all nine University of Minnesota presidents who lived in Eastcliff during the home’s first 100 years. These menus offer a fascinating look at food trends over a century.

The Brooks dining room held only twelve guests, so they had intimate dinner parties and large cocktail parties.

Markell was included in a book on society dining in the Twin Cities. Several of Markell’s favorite recipes were included, and some are in Eastcliff: History of a Home. Markell did not cook herself, but would chose recipes for the staff.

Page from Food of My Friends by Virginia Safford, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1944

Edward’s parents also threw at least one lavish party, as evidenced by a January 25, 1902, Minneapolis newspaper article.

Minneapolis Tribune, January 25, 1902

Many, many University events

People often asked me about the number of events at Eastcliff. While researching and writing Eastcliff: History of a Home, I spent three solid weeks on a mission of reading old event files and making notes. I found detailed, compiled records for only a few academic years:

  • Hasselmo 1993/94: 117 events. Nils and Pat served as hosts for most, but not all, the events.
  • Bruininks/Hagstrum 2009/2010: 119 events. Bob and Susan hosted twenty-seven events together, Bob hosted sixteen alone, Susan hosted twenty alone, and there were fifty-six that neither attended.
  • Kaler 2012/2013: 92 events. Eric and I hosted eighty-six events together, Eric hosted two alone, I hosted four alone; there were no events that neither of us attended. The only-hosted events policy reduced the total number of events from the previous administration.
The dining room, west to east then east to west

We travelled quite a bit on University business—yearly to Florida, Arizona and Washington, D.C.; regularly to California, New York, Hong Kong, and Shanghai; often to many more places. There were no events at Eastcliff if we were gone, and we would have multiple events a day wherever we went. I recall only three events in our eight years at Eastcliff that one or both of us didn’t attend:
1) We attended Carl Platou’s memorial service and missed a years-of-service award reception. Provost Karen Hansen (a highly-capable woman whom we are both crazy about) filled in for Eric.
2) I hosted one of a two-part accepted student event for the Morris campus, and the second event occurred while we were out of town.
3) The 2018 University Women’s Club Holiday Tea was accidentally scheduled for a date when we were in China. (It was a favorite event, and I was quite sorry to miss it.)

Many types of events are listed in Eastcliff: History of a Home. My favorites were events thanking guests or honoring them, such celebrations for awards and scholarship events with students and donor, as shown in the three photos below.

Honorary degree (Kate Millet), scholarship recipients, donor reception

Events are an important aspect of an official residence. The events section in Eastcliff: History of a Home is long, but there was much more that didn’t fit into the book, beginning with several event descriptions.

Retirement celebrations:
Retirement events are a chance for levity, such as when Richard Pfutzenreuter III, the chief financial officer of the University, retired. (“Fitz” is known and admired throughout the state, but I think his personality is best described by the story he tells regarding his nickname. When he was an adolescent and friends would call for him, his mother relished asking, “Do you want big Dick or little Dick?” He insisted on being called Fitz from then on.) For his retirement dinner, Fitz’s wife, Andrea, offered a bobble-head doll in his likeness to use in decorating. I then created four (paper and foamcore) bobble-head style statuettes to use as centerpieces, and each nametag included a Fitz bobblehead. When William Donohue retired from the Office of General Council, we hoped he would get to play more golf, and created a mini-golf course with a Bill Donohue theme on the Eastcliff terrace. I created a tribute newspaper for Jim Bossert’s luncheon when he retired as Eastcliff Facilities Supervisor.

Events with Legislators:
Evenings were problematic for events for legislators, as afternoon voting would run late and some guests would arrive late, or not at all. Even if there were no legislative activities, in my memory legislative dinners had the highest rates of empty seats at the table. (Even with last-minute cancellations, staff would pull a chair and reset the table. Empty seats indicated that we expected that the missing guest might still arrive.) Evening receptions worked better for city leaders, and all the presidents hosted those events, as well. I remember one gathering when a Minneapolis councilperson asked Eric which Minneapolis district Eastcliff was in. Eric then joked in his remarks that he hoped everyone had parked legally, because they were in St. Paul.

Marian Wilson and Tracy Moos entertained wives of legislators (back then, a greater majority were males with wives). When Diane Skomars Magrath entertained members of the Dome Club in 1979, they were listed as spouses (not just wives) of members of the state senate, house, supreme court officers and constitutional officers. The newspaper announcement wasn’t subtle in stating, “It is hoped that the guests will come away with a good feeling and possibly exert influence on voting on bills relating to the University.”

President’s Club Members dinners:
The first of these dinners, coordinated by Nancy Vitoff at UMF and catered by Deco Catering, was such a successful format that it continued each year we were at Eastcliff with a buffet of beef burgundy served from hollowed-out pumpkins, pureed roasted squash, herbal potatoes, cranberry chutney, Waldorf chicken salad, roasted vegetables, baked brie, and caramel apple cake. (See photo below.) After a long line around the square table, we began using a two-sided T-shaped buffet in 2014, to better results. That year it rained throughout the event, so we got our money’s worth from renting the large tent.

Photo courtesy of am photography, www.amlifestylephotography.com

Wilson administration events

Marian Wilson entertained at Eastcliff, with large receptions and dinners with tables set up throughout the house for dinner parties. Marian Wilson’s Italian pot roast recipe, served at an event with student leaders, is included in Eastcliff: History of a Home. Another event menu featured Chicken Polynesian, with chicken cooked in an orange sweet-and-sour sauce, and mixed with crushed pineapple, orange and grapefruit slices, maraschino cherries, and almond sprinkled on top.

Photo by Patrick O’Leary, University of Minnesota

Moos administration events

Tracy Moos continued the type of society events that Markell Brooks and Marian Wilson would have held at Eastcliff, as well as many University events. The University of Minnesota Women’s Club loved visiting Tracy at Eastcliff, and Tracy remained a beloved member of the club until the end of her life. A favorite dish served at Tracy’s events was fruited chicken, made with Major Grey’s chutney and garnished with fruit and served with rice.

In the June 13, 1968, Minneapolis Tribune column About People, Margaret Morris wrote about the Twin Cities Variety Club Women luncheon hosted by Tracy. “About 100 women crowded into Eastcliff. . . [for] salads and homemade sweets.” After short speeches, pianist Milous Ferlick entertained the group. The article continues, “Actress Gale Sondergaard rode up in a big black limousine with Mrs. George E. Nadler, whom she is visiting. The actress, in gold silk dress and heavy gold choker necklace, is staying for the opening night tonight and Friday of the Minnesota Theatre Company’s sixth season at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater. . . . Mrs. Martin Weiner, in Oscar de la Renta’s white textured cotton suit with navy silk blouse and lined jacket, brought Mrs. Aldo Castenada, a Guatemalan, whose husband is a professor of surgery at the university.”

The article includes separate fashion photos of six women, including Mrs. Malcolm Moos in a “two-piece knit” and club president Mrs. Edward Fiterman in a “lime linen shift.” Regretfully, Miss Sondergaard’s photo is not included. (The actress, who had been a drama student at the University of Minnesota where her father taught, was the first winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the 1936 film Anthony Adverse.)

Hearing about other Moos events, I’m reminded that every tradition begins with figuring out how to do something for the first time. On two football Saturdays a year in the early 1970s, Malcolm and Tracy Moos, along with University Relations, invited several hundred people to Legislator-Editor-Broadcaster days for lunch at Eastcliff, followed by a Gopher football game. A 1972 article in a Minneapolis Star states that the events, “designed to foster communication and improve the university’s status, have become such a tradition that recent attempts by some campus officials to put a stop to it have failed.” A source was quoted as saying, “Offering them football tickets is the only way we can get some of the legislators on campus.” The guests were offered two $6.50 game tickets at a discounted price of $1.50 each.

While in the early 1970s, there was already some dismay over having to treat legislators to football games to get them on campus, the tradition continued (and continues). At that first event, they had to figure out how to feed a meal to a very large group, which was well beyond the scope of the Eastcliff kitchen. Tracy suggested they buy boxed meals from North Central Airlines, so each guest was treated to a basket lunch, including wine, on the Eastcliff lawn.

The pre-game tradition continued in 1982 when the Gophers moved from Memorial Stadium to the Metrodome, a climate-controlled NFL stadium and was then state-of-the-art. The Magraths, Keller/Sindelirs, and Hasselmos served tailgate meals at Eastcliff. The Yudofs moved pre-game meals to the Metrodome Plaza, which the Bruininks continued until the opening of TCF Bank Stadium on campus. TCF Bank Stadium opened in 2009 as the new on-campus home of Gopher football. (The Metrodome was demolished in 2014. The Minnesota Vikings played in the Gopher stadium for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.)

Photo by Eric Miller, University of MinnesotaEastcliff Garden Party

Magrath administration events

Eight menus from the Magrath administration were in Minnesota’s Greatest and Best Recipes: A University of Minnesota Cookbook. Two are below. The other six themes were women’s celebration, Icelandic influence, evening in Ireland, Greek dinner, Chinese menu, and Spiess landfall (honoree Gerry Speiss single-handedly sailed a ten-foot sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean).

Moroccan Fare

This meal highlighted the University’s commitment to the institutional development of the Institut National Agronomique et Veterinaire Hassan II in Morocco. The legs of round dining tables were folded under so that the tables could be lowered and supported on cement-filled buckets. Large pillows replaced the chairs. The meal began with a hand-washing ceremony and the suggestion that couscous is traditionally eaten with the first three fingers of the right hand.

The menu:

Cold Spring water with a twist of lemon
“Night in Casablanca” punch
Stuffed dates
Salted almonds
Rabat salad/sliced oranges, pomegranate seeds on lettuce
Rye bread in mini-loaves
Fresh fruit and sesame cookies
Hot mint tea

            The couscous recipe included a stew of chicken, cabbage, onions, rutabaga, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant. Unfortunately, the punch recipe was not included. (The Iceland influence menu did include a recipe for Viking Blood: three parts red burgundy wine is heated until steam rises, then one part Grand Marnier is added right before serving.

Holiday Homecoming

This meal was served honoring Peter Graves after the filming of Matrix III with Graves as alumni host. Professor and author Patricia Hampl entertained with a reading from her book A Romantic Education. The starting beverage, St. Paul Crush, was previously called cranberry crush (a punch of cranberry juice, lemonade, and bourbon) and was renamed in honor of the hometown of the other Matrix host, David Winfield.

The menu:

Cold spring water with a twist of lemon
St. Paul Crush
Pate and crackers
Spinach salad
Chicken marsala
Fettuccini, with garnish
Steamed cranberry pudding
Coffee and tea
Saccardi Chianti Classico, 1977

The two recipes, mentioned as Eastcliff favorites, were chicken liver-mushroom paté and chicken marsala. Those recipes are in Eastcliff: History of a Home. The chicken marsala continued to be served at Eastcliff in other administrations.

Photo by Patrick O’Leary, University of Minnesota

Keller administration events

Keller Faculty Dinners, 1985–1988

The Keller/Sindelirs held faculty dinners each month of the academic a year, and the meal often was themed. This invitation and menu below were for one of the first, if not the first, of the Keller faculty dinners. (The dinners are described in Eastcliff.) The format clearly worked well, as at least sixteen events followed with a similar format. The punch was changed to “cranberry crush” the next month; “cold spring” was spring water. Often the menus were themed, and they seemed to me to be more adventurous than what we served. I was always told that Minnesotans are conservative in their food tastes. (I suggested Chinese food for a dinner near Chinese New Year, for example, and couldn’t make it happen.) One entrée from 1987/88 did not sound appealing, even to me: it was Saratoga chop—a lamb chop with pork tenderloin in the center. I can’t see that making a comeback.

The invitation, 1985:

President Kenneth H. Keller
cordially invites you to a Faculty Dinner
on Wednesday, February 27, 1985
at 5:30 p.m.
176 N. Mississippi River Boulevard
St. Paul
RSVP: Martha Kvanbeck / [phone number] / by February 20

The menu (handwritten on the event form):

Cold spring
Hors d’oeuvres: Marinated artichoke squares
Salad greens, walnut vinaigrette
Focaccia with butter (separate course with salad)
Chicken marsala primavera, with garnish
Raspberry torte
Coffee, tea, white wine, selection of liqueurs

Other faculty dinner menus:

  • September 1986 – Octoberfest with sauerbraten, cabbage, and knodel (potato dumplings)
  • November 1986 – beef bourguignon (speaker: Professor John Borchert)
  • January 1987 – chicken divan
  • February 1987 – Asian-themed meal
  • March 1987 – lamb with lima beans (speaker: Professor Norman Fruman)
  • April 1987 – lasagna (speaker: Professor Peter Wells)
  • May 1987 – southern fried chicken, coleslaw, biscuits (speaker: Professor John Sullivan)
  • October 1987 – beef stroganoff, noodles Romanoff, black Russian cake
  • November 1987 – turkey and corn meal dressing and gravy, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, pie vichyssoise
  • December 1987 – Chicken divan (speaker: Professor Vernon Ruttan)
  • January 1988 – breast of chicken l’orange, dessert grape a’la Matterhorn (speaker: Professor James Vaupel)
  • February 1988 – The event form read: “soup (if bowls arrive; they are due that week); otherwise salad,” breast of chicken with dried beef in cream sauce (speaker: Professor Arthur Caplan)
  • March 1988 – mushroom soup, veal paprika, noodles almondine, braised Brussel sprouts, fruit dessert (speaker, Professor Michael Hancher of the English department)

Reflecting on the dinners ten years later, Ken Keller said,

“We organized it around a talk that was given before dinner, not after dinner, so that the first thing that happened when people arrived is we all trooped down and listened to one of colleagues say something, usually something challenging, almost always something interesting. What that provided was the material for the conversation at dinner and I moved from table to table. We had four tables and I’d take a course at each table, basically, and move around from place to place. We had the advantage of having a subject or, at least, the beginnings of a subject. There was no formal requirement to stay with what was talked about but it usually got things started. I remember Susan McClary got people really going when she talked about her views on music and the reactionary nature of Beethoven and Mozart. That really stirred up the audience.”

Kenneth Keller was interviewed by Professor Clarke A. Chambers on December 1, 3, and 8, 1997.

Dinner before Dance, 1986

Ken and Bonita hosted several dinners before opera or dance performances. The invitation to this dinner included a reproduction of a panel of a Japanese screen from the Walker Art Center. Sage Cowles was a guest at this event. A few months later, on October 2, Sage and John Cowles were at Eastcliff for the announcement of their gift to endow of the Sage Cowles Land Grant Chair in Dance at the University.

The invitation:

President Kenneth H. Keller and Bonita F. Sindelir
cordially invite you
to a buffet and the dance

Saturday, May 24, 1986
5:45 p.m.

176 N. Mississippi River Boulevard
St. Paul

followed by the
Sakai Juku Dance Performance
Northrop Memorial Auditorium
RSVP: Martha Kvanbeck / [phone number] / by May 16

The menu:

Plum Wine
Sake                Beer
Mineral Water
Assorted Rice Crackers
Prawn Sushi
Cucumber Sushi

Beef and Chicken Teriyaki
Spinach with Sesame Seed Dressing
Cirashi Sushi

Fresh Fruit
Sesame Seed Cookies
Green Tea                   Coffee

The food cost for the above was fifteen dollars per person (from Penelope Snipper, a rare departure from the University chef). The themed meals continued for other events. A handwritten menu for a dinner before the May 1986 Metropolitan Opera performance of Carmen included gazpacho salad, paella (chicken, beef, shrimp, langostini, kielbasa, clams, mussels, saffron, and peas), and Marqués de Riscal Spanish wine.

Ken and Bonita began the custom of having an annual regents emeriti dinner. I found a note in the 1989 event file from Barbara Muesing, executive director and corporate secretary of the Board of Regents, which included a note: “FYI, Ken Keller did dinner for them summer before last which was a big hit. Several have expressed that such would be a good idea on an annual basis. . .” It was a nice to make the connection that Barbara Muesing suggested the annual dinner, as at my last regent emeriti dinner I sat by Barbara and Chuck Casey, who was a regent in 1989. (Barbara and Chuck married after he finished being a regent in 1991, but before he became chancellor of the Crookston campus in 2005, so Barbara and I had the role of partner of a president/chancellor in common.)

The Keller/Sindelirs also hosted guests from 1985 to 1988 before dance performances by the Alvin Ailey Company, Merce Cunningham Dance, Moiseyev Dance (vodka and caviar were on the menu, as well as chocolate-covered espresso beans—perhaps to help keep guests awake through the performance), National Ballet of Canada (broiled quail and wild rice “that would be a little Canadian”), Ohio Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet (that menu inexplicably included mint juleps, but perhaps it followed the theme of the program rather than the company). Ken and Bonita hosted a pre-dance dinner for the Sankai Juku performance in 1986, and a post-dance reception for the Sankai Juku performance in 1987—this event began around 10:30 p.m. (It was on homecoming Saturday, which must have made for a grueling weekend.)

Photo by Eric Miller, University of Minnesota

Sauer interim events

During the Sauer interim between Presidents Keller and Hasselmo, Eastcliff did not have a family in residence, but it seems the Sauers did spend one night —the night before Thanksgiving 1988, so they could rise early and begin cooking Thanksgiving dinner for their family. Notes in the Eastcliff events files indicate that Dick Sauer arranged to surprise his wife with a food service prepared dinner for family and friends on the night before Thanksgiving.

An overriding concern when planning Eastcliff meals, for us and I’m sure others, was to have a nice meal at a reasonable cost. The event forms from the 1980s and 90s with invoices attached (or handwritten notes) seem to indicate that, accounting for inflation, the costs were similar to costs during our tenure. A typical buffet dinner in the 1980s was around fifteen dollars; a served meal was around twenty dollars. I was therefore surprised to see forms from the Sauer interim that included meals for forty-one dollars (a staff dinner of broiled shrimp and steak), fifty-six dollars (a post-ballet dinner of broiled oysters, salmon, and brandied peaches for dessert), and the following event that was seventy-five dollars per serving, which seems an ironic end to this period of University history. (There was also a cost of $50 for a student harpist, and an additional bill for $50 to transport the harp. I don’t know if that was $100 was included in the $1,582.50 final tally, but it hardly matters. That was likely the most expensive dinner ever held at Eastcliff.)

Campaign Committee Dinner, 1988

The invitation:

President Richard and Elizabeth Sauer
Dale and Nancy Olseth

cordially invite you and your spouse

to an Appreciation Dinner
for the Minnesota Campaign Executive Committee

on Wednesday, October 26, 1988
at 6:30 p.m.

176 N. Mississippi River Boulevard
St. Paul

RSVP: Martha Kvanbeck / [phone number] / by October 19

The menu:

Full bar, mineral water
Caesar salad
French bread
Sautéed sole with black caviar, saffron cream sauce
Chocolate baskets with amaretto mousse
After dinner drinks served at the table

Photo by Patrick O’Leary, University of Minnesota

Hasselmo administration events

Swedish Holiday Smorgasbord 1989 and 1991

In December of 1989, and again in December of 1991, the regents were invited to a Swedish Holiday Smorgasbord for their annual holiday gathering. Anna Hasselmo, daughter of Nils and Pat who was a college student at the time, recalls being drafted to dress as Saint Lucia. (Saint Lucia’s Day, December 13, is an important Swedish tradition. Lucia is represented as a maiden dressed in white with light (candles) in her hair.)

The invitation, December 1989:

Nils and Pat Hasselmo
cordially invite you and your spouse/guest
to a Swedish Holiday Smorgasbord
prepared by the ladies of the American-Swedish Institute

Thursday, December 7, 1989
6:30 p.m.

176 N. Mississippi River Blvd.
St. Paul

RSVP: Martha Kvanbeck by November 30
[phone number] or 427 Morrill Hall,
100 Church Street SE, Mpls. 55455

The menu, December 12, 1991:
This is the handwritten menu, removing the dishes that Pat eliminated. A note attached to the menu said that “Mrs. Hasselmo had indicated a ‘scaled-down’ version of what we did two years ago.” If this is scaled down, I really regret that we don’t have the first menu.

First Course:
New potatoes with dill
Matjes siel
Pickled herring
Jarlsberg cheese
Bond ost cheese
Pickled beets
Rye bread
Hard tack
Butter (on tables)

Second Course:
Meatballs in gravy
Boiled potatoes with parsley
Pickled cucumbers
Swedish sausage
Janson’s temptation
Liver paté
A vegetable of some sort (whatever you prefer: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower)

Rice pudding with lingonberries
Pepparkaka cookies

Full bar upon arrival, beer and aquavit with dinner

Cheryl Paschke and two or three musicians from Svenska Spelmans laget played before dinner and (perhaps) again during dessert. This meal was for fifty-three people, although the bill was for fifty dinners at twenty dollars each. (The 1989 meal was for twenty meals at sixteen dollars each.)

On the handwritten proposal for the menu, after the sylta (a headcheese/loaf of jellied meat) there was a note “yes, but only one”—one headcheese is at least enough, in my opinion. I looked up a few other dishes for you: Matjes are herring. Jansson’s temptation (typically spelled with two S’s) is a Swedish dish of potatoes, onion, ansjovis (pickled sprat—not anchovies), and cream. Mazarines are almond filled Swedish tarts. Pepparkaka (or pepparkakor) are Swedish rolled and cut ginger cookies. St. Lucia, the food, the music—doesn’t it sound delightful?

Faculty Dinners, 1995–1996

The Hasselmos hosted a series of dinners beginning in the spring of 1989 that included department heads and faculty consultative members from one to three colleges per event. Each event included a dinner and music from a string quartet.

The invitation, March 13, 1995:

To recognize the faculty in the
Department of
Agriculture and Applied Economics
for their scholarship and academic excellence,
 President Nils and Pat Hasselmo
cordially invite you and your guest
to dinner at Eastcliff

Monday, March 13, 1995

6:00 p.m.

                  RSVP by March 6       Eastcliff
Linda Fox       176 N. Mississippi River Blvd.
[Phone number]         St. Paul, MN 55104

The menu, March 13, 1995 (prepared by Atrium Catering International):

Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons and Caesar Dressing
Sautéed Walleye Pike with Citrus Nantaise
Wild Rice Hunter Style
Sautéed Market Vegetables
Assorted Bread, Rolls, and Sweet Butter
Cream Cheesecake with Fresh Fruit Topping

Photo courtesy of am photography

Yudof administration events

Pancake Breakfasts, 1997–2002

Mark Yudof became known for eating pancakes as he travelled the state. (In Eastcliff: History of a Home, you will learn that President Yudof didn’t eat dessert, but that dichotomy is what it is.) It was therefore fitting that he used pancake breakfasts to engage legislators. He began the breakfasts at Eastcliff in his first winter in Minnesota, and continued hosting two or three a year each winter he was president.

The 1997 invitation for the third district:
President Mark G. and Judy Yudof
request the pleasure of your company
for “Minnesota’s best pancake breakfast”
on Monday, the first of December
nineteen hundred and ninety-seven
eight o’clock until nine thirty a.m.
at Eastcliff.
Please RSVP by November 25
to Linda Fox
[phone number]
176 North Mississippi River Boulevard
Saint Paul, Minnesota

The 1998 invitation for the third district:
President Mark G. and Judy Yudof
with Board of Regents Chair, William Hogan II
cordially invite you to a
Pancake Breakfast for Legislators
from the Third Congressional District
on Tuesday, December 15, 1998
seven thirty a.m. until nine a.m.
at Eastcliff
176 North Mississippi River Boulevard
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Please RSVP by December 11

Eastclif @ umn.edu
[phone number]

There were several changes in the invitation from 1997 to those in 1998 and later, notably:

  • A regent, all of whom are elected by the legislature, joined as a co-host.
  • Someone became comfortable enough with the new president to explain that, unlike Texas, Minnesotans don’t say they are the best, or say they have the best breakfasts. (They just quietly know they are the best and almost—almost—smile with that satisfaction.)
  • The 8:00 a.m. start time was likely uncomfortably late for legislators from farm communities; 7:30 is not much earlier, but sounds better.
  • RSVP by Email! It’s the new thing, and seemed to be catching on. (You’ll note that Eastcliff only has one F in the address. UMN.edu email addresses were limited to eight characters.)

That 1998 version of the invitation was updated and used with only two small changes (two regents co-hosted and Judy Yudof did not) until the last of the pancake breakfasts in 2002.

The Menu, 2002:

The first Yudof pancake breakfast was catered by Keys Café and included pancakes with syrup and butter, assorted fruit, orange juice, and coffee for $170 for 20 people. The January 16, 2002 breakfast (menu below) was catered by University Dining Services and was $330 for 25 people.

Buttermilk pancakes and fresh blueberry pancakes
with 100% pure maple syrup
Hash browns with onions
Scrambled eggs with chives
Fresh fruit compote
Mini muffins and assorted mini sweet rolls
Whipped butter
Coffee, decaffeinated coffee
Orange juice, cranberry juice, apple juice

Donor Dinners, 1999–2001

Mark and Judy hosted several donor dinners with just one or two couples as guests in May and June of 1999, with an elegant multi-course menu. One had an entrée of rack of lamb, with one serving of fish, but some were fish for everyone. (It’s interesting to note, to those of us interested in food, how fish goes in and out of favor.) Caterers prepared the event food, including Town and Country Caterers at the Reserve, The Saint Paul Hotel, Babette’s in the Park, Mary McGee, and The Deco.

The Yudofs hosted a few donor dinners in 2001 with a similar menu, and a 2002 event called “Ad-Hoc Dinner,” so those menus seem a good representation of a Yudof event, even if I don’t have the matching invitation. These elegant menus from chef Mary Magee continued occasionally during the next administration, with the Bruininks/Hagstrums, however, shellfish was occasionally included and all the guests had the same meal. Dessert was often pumpkin Napoleons with sugared pecans and caramel sauce, which must have been an enjoyed specialty.

The invitation:
The dinners were likely arranged by President Yudof’s scheduler calling the guests’ assistants. No printed invitations were in the files.

The menu:

Cocktails and wine
Hors d’oeuvres of artichoke parmesan puffs
and vegetable cornucopia crepes

Ravioli stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, herbs
served with marinara sauce

Spring melon sorbet

Broiled trout stuffed with oyster mushrooms, almonds, and wild rice
Steamed asparagus spears

Mixed green salad with champagne vinaigrette
and Edam cheese

Mixed fresh berries with crème fraiche
Chocolate dipped sugar cookie

1995 Domaine de la Solitude Chateauneuf du Pape
1996 Chateau Chevre Napa Valley Merlot

One dinner from the Yudof administration is perplexing. A printed email in the event file reads, “Please hold on Eastcliff’s calendar a dinner with Governor [Arne Carlson] and Susan Carlson (he will pick the invitees). I have a hold from 7–9 p.m. on the calendar. The governor’s assistant will get back to me.” The dinner on January 5 included three canapes, a first course of mushroom sherry bisque, a second course of sweated spinach salad, the third course of cod wrapped with roasted potato and red pepper crust served on mesculin greens with vegetable garnis, different breads with each course, and a dessert of shortbread biscuits, vanilla ice cream, and cherry flambé. The bill for fourteen people (including basketball coach Clem Haskins) was for $873.31 included a 15% gratuity, plus state and city tax.

Based on the event files, it seems the Yudofs discontinued the spring commencement reception tradition that Pat Hasselmo began, but twice they hosted events for the entire University of Minnesota Marching Band. The Yudofs hosted a smaller winter commencement reception. The Bruininks/Hagstrums continued the winter celebrations, then reinstated the May commencement receptions in 2004, with receptions in two time slots on the same date. We continued that tradition.

Photo by Patrick O’Leary, University of Minnesota

Bruininks administration events

Bob and Susan increased the number of events from the previous administration. At a June 2005 event, Susan thanked Eastcliff personnel and said that there had been 150 events that year for 7,500 people—a record number. Dana Zneiwski and Robert Bantle coordinated Eastcliff events during that time, and the caterers were numerous. They ranged from small casual restaurants to Marshall Fields’ Catering, personal chefs to University Dining Services. This range accommodated a variety of needs. There was an “Egyptian Buffet” for 125 guests, and there was an elegant dinner for four. For “fancy” dinners, the Bruininks continued to use Chef Mary McGee, and increasingly used TWO: Food Wine Design. (Unfortunately, neither of these were still catering when Eric and I arrived.)

The only food restriction I found was a note on some menus for breakfasts—no peppers in anything please. Beef tenderloin appeared regularly on the menu. I was surprised not to see more fish, as Bob was famous for his fishing and was said to be nicknamed “Walleye Bob” for a giant fish (thirty-seven inches, nearly seventeen-and-a-half pounds) he caught on an eight-pound test line with no net.

To put Bob’s fish size in perspective, the state walleye record that has held for forty years was a fish was just under thirty-six inches–shorter than Bob’s—but weighed seventeen pounds and a full eight ounces, full of eggs. Susan explained that “Wilma” (you need to give something that big a name) “was short by several ounces because we did not get her to an official scale for about an hour (one was not readily available on the Gunflint Trail) and she dried out a little bit. Bob was surprised because the walleye that won several years earlier was caught in the spring and was full of spawn. Wilma was caught on the 4th of July with no spawn in her. So she really was larger. Our son Todd is a fantastic fisherman; he was fishing with several of his college friends and Bob that day. He is convinced that Wilma committed suicide because he says his father is not that great a fisherman.”

As Bob said, “You could fish 1,000 years, twenty-four hours day and not catch a fish that size again.” Bob’s fish was mounted and put in a glass case in Morrill Hall. It now is in the Bell Museum—because if I were Susan I’d just say no to having that in the condo.

Gopher Football Stadium Fundraising Dinner, 2005

Building TCF Bank Stadium to bring football back to campus is a lasting legacy of President Bruininks. John and Nancy Lindahl co-chaired the stadium fundraising campaign. The dinner was originally planned for April, until athletics staff contacted the guest list and “discovered that many of our invitees are ‘snow birds’ and most of them will still be in Florida, Arizona, California until early to mid-May.” The dinner was catered by TWO: Food Wine Design. The dessert came from the Izzy’s Ice Cream Café located just a few blocks from Eastcliff. (The invoice was for ice cream, raspberry sauce, mango sauce—maroon and gold—and two hours of graphic design.

The invitation:

University of Minnesota President Robert H. Bruininks
Athletics Director Joel Maturi and
Head Football Coach Glen Mason
Legends Campaign Co-Chairs John and Nancy Lindahl
cordially invite you to Eastcliff for a
Golden Gopher Legends Campaign dinner

Monday, May 16, 2005
6:00 p.m

RSVP by May 12 to                                               Eastcliff
[phone number]                          176 North Mississippi River Boulevard eastclif @ umn.edu                             Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104

The menu (proposal for 47 guests):

Passed Hors D’oeuvres
Tuna Nicoise Tartlets
Organic Melon with Egyptian Triple Cream Feta and Basil

Plated Appetizer
Lobster Pot Pie

Entrée Course
Beef Tenderloin Tournado and Smoky Toasted Scallops
With Black Caper Sauce
Roasted Cauliflower
Haricot Vert
Artisan Bread and Butter

Salad Course
Red & Green Butter Lettuce with Sherried Shallot Vinaigrette

Individual Desserts with TCF Stadium Logo

Reception, 2006

Besides many more caterers, there were many more events than during the Yudofs’ tenure. One of reasons for the large increase was a policy of allowing others within the University to host events at Eastcliff without Bob or Susan present. While Bob and Susan hosted events together, and President Bruininks hosted events separately, more events were hosted by Susan Hagstrum (by herself or with a co-host—Deans, for instance) than by the president, which was a change from the previous several years. With that in mind, I have chosen one of these events to show a representative menu. The Multiple Sclerosis Society was dear to Susan’s heart, as her mother, Shirley Hansen Hagstrum, had multiple sclerosis.

The invitation:

Susan A. Hagstrum with the Governance Committee
cordially invites you to Eastcliff for light hors d’oeuvres
with the
National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Minnesota Chapter
Board of Trustees

April 11, 2006
5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

  RSVP by April 7 to                                              Eastcliff
[phone number]                                                 176 North Mississippi River Boulevard

eastclif @ umn.edu                                             Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104

The menu (buffet for forty prepared by Kafe 421 Catering):

Phyllo Pizza
Seared Scallops with Mango Salsa
Beef Tenderloin Kabobs with Tzaziki Sauce
Chicken Wrapped in Phyllo and Stuffed with Spinach and Peppercorn with Madeira Sauce
Vegetarian Asparagus Wraps
Baked Shrimp Toast
Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola in Phyllo Cups
Phyllo Wrapped Brie with Grapes and Crackers

Chocolate Mousse Cups
Mini Lemon Tarts
Nut Bars

Photo by Patrick O’Leary, University of Minnesota

Kaler administration events

I noticed a funny thing going through the event files: I thought it was a bit odd that someone decided that our invitations should refer to us as “President Eric W. Kaler and his wife, Karen F. Kaler.” I thought it had become the custom because Bob and Susan had different last names. Turns out, their invitations were from “President Robert H. Bruininks and Susan A. Hagstrum.” Event invitations just from me the first few years identified me as the president’s wife. I wonder now who was concerned that, with the same last name and living with Eric at Eastcliff, people couldn’t figure out that I was probably married to him.

President’s Award for Outstanding Service, 2012

I think the “meals” we ate most at Eastcliff (that I didn’t prepare myself) were reception food. There were lots of receptions, and, as often happened, if we didn’t have time to eat during the event, we ate cold leftovers afterward.

The invitation:

President Eric. W. Kaler and Karen F. Kaler
request the pleasure of your company
for the reception at Eastcliff honoring recipients of the
2012 President’s Award for Outstanding Service

Monday, June 4, 2012
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

            Eastcliff                                                                    RSVP by May 22, 2012
            176 N. Mississippi River Blvd.                                   to uawards@umn.edu
            St. Paul, Minnesota 55104                                       Please let us know if you
                                                                                             have any dietary restrictions.

The menu:

Beef tenderloin skewers with lemon gremolata

Grilled shrimp marinated in smoky paprika marinade
Cayenne shortbread with goat cheese and edamame pesto

Vegetable display to include fresh and marinated vegetables, gigande beans, olives, roasted red pepper hummus, marinated mini mozzarella

Fruit and cheese display to include brie, blue, and mimolette, with sliced baguettes and crackers

Brownie triangles
Lemon pound cake rounds with lemon curd

This reception menu was prepared by Gourmet Thyme (Donna Cavanaugh). Donna later called her brownies Killer Brownies, and they were the best. Her cayenne shortbread appetizers were particularly good when fresh figs were in season; she topped the savory shortbread cookies with goat cheese and a slice of fig. She retired during our time at Eastcliff. The caterer we used most for receptions was Georgia’s Catering/Kafe 421.

Regents Dinner, 2013

The regents typically ate dinner at Eastcliff on the Thursday night before the Friday meetings, and they invited different constituencies to join them. We would coordinate the food with the Thursday committee meeting lunches so that the regents didn’t, for example, have a chicken for both lunch and dinner. This dinner included members of Generation Next, which Eric and Kim Nelson co-chaired to address the opportunity gap that exists in Minnesota K-12 schools.

The invitation:

President Eric. W. Kaler and his wife, Karen F. Kaler,
with the
Regents of the University of Minnesota
cordially invite selected Generation Next Leadership and K-12 Educators
to a dinner.

Thursday, February 7, 2013
6:00 p.m.

            Eastcliff                                                             RSVP by Jan. 30, 2013
            176 N. Mississippi River Blvd.                            to uregents @ umn.edu or [phone]
            St. Paul, Minnesota 55104                                Please let us know if you
                                                                                      have any dietary restrictions.

The menu (prepared by Justin Schoville):

Passed appetizers:
Pork pate, lemon mustard, house pickled cucumber, toast
Goat’s cheese tart, Ames Farms honey, strawberry

Amuse Bouche:
Parfait of English pea puree, egg yolk, onion, brioche

Jerusalem artichoke with house-smoked bacon, thyme, Merula olive oil

Corvina, chermoula spice, herb couscous, preserved lemon, sprouts

Medjool date cake, pomegranate, compressed pear, ginger ice cream

Photo by Patrick O’Leary, University of Minnesota

Gabel administration events

The first event of the Gabel administration at Eastcliff was an appreciation and celebration reception following the inauguration events on campus. The guests at that reception included faculty and staff who helped plan all the successful inauguration activities, out of town guests and family, and system campus representatives. (Bethany Fung and Beth Arnold were continuing to coordinate events through the University of Minnesota Foundation. Regular caterers were Kafe 421, Fabulous Catering, and D’Amico Catering.)

Gabel inauguration reception, 2019

The invitation:

Please join us in capping off an historic week in celebration of
President Joan Gabel’s inauguration as the 17th president of the University of Minnesota
and in thanking the many people who helped make it possible!

Friday, September 20, 2019 4 to 6 p.m.


176 North Mississippi River Boulevard, Saint Paul, MN 55104

Kindly respond by September 10, at rsvp.umn.edu/celebration.
If you have any questions, contact Beth Arnold [email or phone]

The menu (prepared by Kafe 421):

Chicken satay with mango dipping sauce
Antipasti skewers – Dairy free skewers also available
Gluten free eggplant Milanese bites
Beef canapés with herbed dill cream cheese
Asparagus stuffed mushrooms
Vegetarian stuffed grape leaves

Flourless chocolate torte bites
Mini fresh fruit tarts

Board of Regents reception, December 12, 2019

The following menu, prepared by Fabulous Catering, is reminiscent of the Swedish buffets served at the December regents’ dinners during the Hasselmo administration.

The buffet menu:

Pan fried potato pierogis with cream cheese, coarse grain mustard and dill,
served with lemon dill sour cream
Little chicken pot pies in toasted pastry
Miniature Swedish meatball “sliders”
served on mini sesame seed buns with lingonberry sauce
Roasted seasonal vegetables
Oregano marinated and grilled chicken satay

Local flavors grill stations:
Grilled local Kramarczuk’s sausages featuring heritage andouille,
wild rice bratwurst, Ukrainian sausage, and herbivorous butcher vegan sausage

Little gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese icing
Little pecan tartlets with white chocolate whipped cream

Board of Regents’ dinner, February 13, 2020

The invitation:

President Joan T.A. Gabel and Dr. Gary Gabel
along with the Regents of the University of Minnesota
cordially invite the Research and Outreach Center Directors 
to a dinner at Eastcliff

Thursday, February 13, 2020
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

KINDLY RESPOND BY February 5, 2020, [by email or phone]

Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions or food allergies when you RSVP.

Eastcliff  | 176 North Mississippi River Boulevard | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104

The menu:

Hors d’oeuvres:
Golden beet cup, caramelized apple, goat cheese, candied walnut (GF, V)
Chicken spring roll, spicy peanut sauce (DF)

Plated dinner:
Preset mixed green salad, caramelized apple, toasted walnuts, hard cider vinaigrette (GF, V)
Sautéed farmhouse chicken breast, potato gnocchi, parsnip carrot, parmesan black pepper butter
Vegan “crab” cakes, hearts of palm, chickpea, warm fingerling potato salad, arugula, chili oil (DF, VV)

Vanilla bean cheesecake, seasonal berry compote

The above menu, prepared by D’Amico Catering (see below, for McNamara Alumni Center events), contains food codes that became well known by 2020:
GF = gluten free, V = vegetarian, DF = dairy free, VV = vegan.
(While the vegan “crab” cake sounds a bit odd, I have eaten it at the McNamara Alumni Center and it is excellent.)

Eastcliff back lawn, Photo by Patrick O’Leary, University of Minnesota

Events at McNamara Alumni Center

Since 2000, so many events have been held at McNamara Alumni Center, that I’m sure other presidents and partners have also thought of it as a dining-room-away-from-home. It is a marvelous space, designed by architect Antoine Predock and named for “Pinky” McNamara, who by all accounts was a special human being. I didn’t know Pinky, but his brother Bob was an exemplary person, as is Bob’s wife, Annette, and their daughter, Anne Marie, whom I consider a dear friend. D’Amico had the catering contract at McNamara during our time (and perhaps still).

To give you an inside peek of the life of a presidential partner, I’ll explain what I called the “Italian restaurant effect.” My dear husband, as president, mentioned he likes Italian food. Our next several development trips, it was Italian restaurants, all day, every day. He, despite my best efforts, leaves vegetables on his plate but eats all his rice. Once at Eastcliff, I was served rice instead of a vegetable I was looking forward to. Afterward, I said, “I saw you ran out of the vegetable. I appreciate that you shorted my plate rather than that of a guest.” The response was “Oh, we didn’t run out; we know you and the president like rice.” (My rice opinion: Minnesota wild rice is awesome. Brown rice can be good. But white rice? Any vegetable is better than white rice.)

Eric is a picky eater. He once said that he really enjoyed D’Amico’s short ribs at McNamara. Thereafter, sooooo many short ribs. If I knew it was a beef entrée at McNamara, I ordered vegetarian. (D’Amico’s strong suit, in my opinion, is their vegetarian entrees.) I’m am unequivocally not a picky eater, but I still shudder at the words “short ribs.”

Please note: The above text was edited from Eastcliff: History of a Home due to lack of space. It is intended as a supplement to the book.

Expansions to the Dining Room

Expansions to the Dining Room

A major Eastcliff remodel that was planned in 1967 and never built is included

The $600,000 Kitchen that Wasn’t

The $600,000 Kitchen that Wasn’t

A post-mortem of the most infamous episode in Eastcliff’s first century

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