HAPPY PITSGIVING! Today I am indebted to my friends at Harvest Table (aka the folks who run The Pit) for giving me a little inside baseball look at the lead up to the start of Pitsgiving, which opened at 11 am today for lunch.
Here’s the Five Senses of the Start of Pitsgiving!
- Maybe 20ish students already in the Pit when I arrived at 10:45 (through a secret kitchen entrance). It appears they are doing a “Pit sit” – which is when you come for breakfast and stay there at your table the whole time (studying or whatever) until the changeover to lunch. It means they don’t have to use another meal swipe, and they can save their table.
- One intrepid student at a table with a colorful tablecloth that she had clearly brought herself. She understood the assignment.
- Lots of staff from Harvest Table walking around making last minute preparations: wiping tables, putting silverware in the containers, checking each station.
- Several people – it looks like staff and a couple students – taking pictures of the spread.
- A phenomenal looking charcuterie station. Will admit I am eyeing the squares of gorgonzola or blue cheese, which to me look especially good.
- Servers carving ham and turkey at the ends of the long buffet. They are getting a jump on having it ready to serve.
- Tall cocktail tables with black tablecloths that have been set up as standing-room-only dining. The tables with chairs will fill quickly, and students will be happy to have these.
- I see a couple of large, 8 or 10 person tables that have been reserved with signs, with a person’s name on it. This is odd, as I did not think anyone could reserve?
- The Deacon is inside the Pit with us, taking pictures with people before the doors open at 11. Later, I see the Deacon hug one of the staff who swipe in the students as they enter. They were dancing together, really grooving. It was joyous to watch.
- The Deacon go out the door and mingle with students right before the countdown to the doors opening begins.
- The doors open and students coming in to get their ID swiped.
- Students moving very quickly – some nearly running – to claim a table. As friend groups come in together in 2s and 3s, there’s definitely some pointing around and strategizing about where to sit.
- A chef with a white coat and a big chef’s hat walking around, surveying the stations.
- A second entrance to the Pit opens; this one is coming from the interior of Reynolda. The students are clamoring to get scanned. I see them stacking up on the stairs to get down to the Pit.
- One enterprising student is sitting at an 8 person table alone. He has put glasses out for the 7 other yet-to-arrive people, to indicate to others that all the seats at this table are taken. I see this strategy repeated at other tables.
- Smiles, smiles, and more smiles on the faces of our students.
- One student rubbing his hands together in anticipation as he heads to the buffet. I later see him returning with a friend and they are both grinning ear to ear.
- The students that won the raffle to sit at the special tables are so happy looking.
- Virtually no unclaimed tables as of 11:09 a.m. We’ve been open for 9 minutes and it’s already pretty jammed.
- A female student who is on crutches, accompanied by very loyal friend. The friend is carrying both their plates of food as they snake their way back to their table.
- “Countdown five minutes!!!”
- A loud electronic horn/beep type noise. There’s a staff person with a bullhorn and they were alerting the team that we are almost ready to let the students in.
- My Harvest Table colleague’s explanation about the couple of long reserved tables. I am told that students could fill out a form to win a reserved table, and a couple of people were drawn at random. Very cool.
- Someone yelling “Are we ready?!?!?”
- A Harvest Table staff member tells me that for the last hour, two female students have been sitting outside so they could be first in to Pitsgiving. That kind of commitment is impressive.
- The sound of cheering from outside. The countdown is on!
- The staff who swipe the students in saying “One at a time! Everybody has to get scanned!”
- Harvest Table staff everywhere saying “HAPPY PITSGIVING!” to the students.
- A lot of laughter from students already in line for the big buffet, which has turkey ham, stuffing, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and gravy (if I recall correctly).
- Students speaking in a foreign language. I assume it is Mandarin. I wish I knew what they were saying, because they are making the most delightful faces as they look at the buffet. I imagine they are saying they can’t believe this giant spread.
- An administrator being asked how he’s doing and he says “very good – you all right?”
- “We have a table!” a female student exclaims delightedly to her friend.
- The sounds of plastic plates clinking together as students grab them at the buffet line.
- The metallic sound of silverware being dropped on the floor by accident.
- A student doing a quick scan of the room for open tables and saying to their friend in a wary voice “this isn’t good” because it is very full even just 9 minutes in.
- A student passing me with a friend. One says to the other “College kids – am I right???”
- “Oh my God! That is SO funny!”
- The generic blurry sound of many conversations, mostly incomprehensible because so many people are talking at once. It sounds like the hum of a beehive.
- The scent of toasting bread. I am not sure if this is coming from the stuffing station, or if it is the scent of stuffing coming out of the ovens in the kitchen. Either way, it smells very enticing.
- Turkey: warm, salty, and delicious smelling.
- A whiff of spice as I check out the pie section. It’s pumpkin pie spice, maybe some nutmeg or mace too.
- The meats and cheeses at the charcuterie station.
- The smell of holiday carbs: stuffing, mac and cheese, potatoes, gravy.
- Cool air coming through the door from the terrace.
- The particular smell that comes from the flame canisters under the chafing dishes.
- The handle of the *very* old louver doors covering the windows to the patio. I open one to peek outside to see how long the line is before opening (it’s LONG!)
- Great joy. Both the staff and the students are smiling. Pitsgiving is such a fun day.
- The smooth black fabric of the tablecloth on one of the high cocktail tables as I try to scoot out of a student’s way.
- Amazement at the dexterity of our students. I see them walk by me with plates piled so high with food, many of them also carrying one or two smaller dessert plates with slices of pie or cake on them.
- An increasing sense of being in the way as the place gets more crowded. Students are either arriving and striding with a great sense of purpose as they look for a table, or deftly balancing plates of food as they walk to their table. I feel a bit in the way. There is not a great place to stand and observe that doesn’t cause a logjam as people try to pass.
- The urge to try the pumpkin bisque being advertised at the soup station. I see a student passing by me with a bowl and it looks intriguing.
- Hilarious respect at the ingenuity of our students: I see at least two of them who are waiting in line for the main food buffet and are probably 10 people back from where you pick up your plate at the head of the line. They had already hit the dessert buffet on the way and are currently eating pie while they’re waiting in line. Well done, students.
- The justifiable pride of our Harvest Table staff. They put on a wonderful – and very beautiful – spread for our students. I also feel tired for them, since they will do this from 11-3 today and then again from 4-7 at dinner.
- Though I was offered food, I was too busy observing to actually eat. Had I gotten a plate, I would have prioritized the cheeses of the charcuterie station, the bread and cracker station (which looked amazing), pumpkin bisque, stuffing and gravy, and probably pumpkin pie. On my first pass 🙂
- If I still had room, I’d hit the desserts again. They had wonderful looking chocolate chocolate chip cookies (which are not technically Thanksgiving fare, but they are always delicious).
I arrived at 10:45 before they opened, and stayed until about 11:10, at which point I got out of everyone’s way because it was busy. Hope you enjoyed this little peek behind the curtain, and hope your Deacs participated in Pitsgiving! Some pics below – click to enlarge. I’ll have better ones (from a proper photographer!) in the coming days.