Tabor cafeteria offers a touch of home for general public, too

As the new food-service director began her duties at Tabor College Cafeteria in September, she discovered a campus food tradition to uphold-cinnamon buns called TC rolls.

“When I got here, I was told to have plenty of TC rolls on hand,” said Mary Bostic about the large cinnamon rolls topped with a generous amount of vanilla icing for only $1.

“We serve them in the snack bar, primarily, but we also have them for special events for the students. Visitors and students enjoy the traditions that you can get at the snack bar. I think everyone around here knows a good TC roll when they see them.”

Bostic, 45, oversees a cafeteria that opens its doors to students seven days a week during school semesters.

But it caters to more than just Tabor students. Faculty, staff, high school students and members of the Hillsboro community and surrounding areas are welcome to enjoy the cafeteria food as well.

“We have a lot of kids from the high school come over here for lunch because it’s a quick trip,” Bostic said. “They come to the snack bar to get a burger and fries, and it’s good to have them on campus.”

One of five children, Bostic was born in New York City. “My family moved around quite a bit, but always on the east coast,” she said.

After graduating from high school in northern Virginia, she attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to earn a four-year degree in human nutrition and foods in 1980.

“I went the management route, because I enjoyed the management end of things,” Bostic said. “I like to be involved with people.”

After graduation, she worked for one year as an assistant food manager in a large school-lunch program in northern Virginia.

For the next six years, she gained experience as a food-service manager for the Marriott Company in collegiate settings in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Md., and New York, N.Y.

Looking for a more Christian atmosphere, she had the opportunity to apply for a position with Pioneer College Caterers, a company that manages cafeterias in Christian colleges.

From 1987 to 1998, Bostic was food-service director at Mount Vernon Nazarene College in Mount Vernon, Ohio, where she eventually met her husband, Bruce.

“When I went there, there were about 400 students, and it grew to over 1,000 on the meal plan,” Bostic said. “It was great-a nice growing experience, very positive, and I enjoyed it.”

Five years after being married to Bruce, Hannah was born.

“We had three older children, and we were blessed with the new addition of Hannah in 1996,” Bostic said. “Hannah put the whole family together and tied the knot around us.”

While working for Pioneer in Mount Vernon, Bostic garnered a prestigious award in 1996-the Pioneer College Caterer’s President’s Award for Excellence in Performance and Leadership.

“Out of all the schools-I believe there were about 40 accounts at that time-the president of the company felt that our school was deserving of recognition,” Bostic said. “It was the first time it was awarded. That was an honor.”

In 1998, Bostic left the food-service industry to teach pre-kindergarten so she could be home more often for Hannah. Now living in Brunswick, Ga., where Bruce worked for Gulfstream, the family settled in.

But “God had different plans for their future,” Bostic said.

After earning a degree in Human Resource Development, Bruce was looking for a job. Bostic approached Pioneer to see if any positions were available so Bruce could look for work outside the tourist town they were living in.

That inquiry was in April and by August, she was told a position might be available in Hillsboro at Tabor.

“Within two weeks, I was interviewing, and I was here by Sept. 7 to start work,” Bostic said.

Although they now rent a house across from the scenic park area in Hillsboro, Bostic said she and Bruce hope to eventually buy a home here. Two children are in the local school system-Hannah is enrolled in second grade, and Brian is a senior at Hillsboro High School.

“We all feel very comfortable here,” Bostic said. “I’ve never lived in a town this small, and it’s enjoyable, it really is.”

Bostic overseas a staff of five full-time employees, one assistant manager and about 25 part-time help.

“I have lots of students-college and high school,” she said. “When I arrived here, the college encouraged me to employ the college students because it helps with their tuition.”

She has high praise for all her staff.

“I have excellent people in the kitchen,” Bostic said. “I think they know I’m more than just a temporary person. And they’ve really rallied behind me in a sense that I see a support there, a trust.”

As the new manager, Bostic has been given the opportunity to put her personal signature on a structured cafeteria setting.

She serves home-made-style cinnamon rolls once a week for breakfast. “And the students just love those,” Bostic said.

She introduced home-made-style breads that are proofed and baked in the cafeteria kitchen.

“We serve those every Sunday for lunch after church,” Bostic said. “And once a month, we serve it for the kids. They just love it, because it’s something they don’t get every day.”

She has also introduced an expanded specialty buffet bar of make-your-own taco and pasta entrees.

“We started that when I got here, and they like it because if they don’t like the two entrees, they can have this,” Bostic said.

“When it comes to cooking, I find that I like to cook international foods.”

She also said she has a sweet tooth, and offered to share the following recipe:

Buckeye Candy

1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar

2 sticks margarine

1/3 stick paraffin

1 pound creamy peanut butter

12-ounce package chocolate bits

Mix margarine and peanut butter well together, adding powdered sugar gradually. Make into desired balls, the shape of buckeyes, and place on buttered pans to chill in refrigerator.

Melt chocolate bits and paraffin over hot water. Dip peanut-butter balls in this using a toothpick to hold them. Cover enough of the peanut-butter balls to make them look like buckeyes.

Keep chocolate hot over hot water while dipping. These can be frozen and should make about 100 candy buckeyes.

It’s only natural that Bostic has a recipe for buckeye candy-she spent 11 years in Ohio, the home of the Ohio State University Buckeyes.

“My husband’s an Ohio State fan through and through,” Bostic said. “And every Christmas, these are done in the family and exchanged.”

Anyone outside the Tabor campus is always welcome to patronize the snack bar and cafeteria during operating hours, but the Sunday Noon Meal brings in the largest crowd, Bostic said.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the all-you-can-eat buffet includes three entrees, a starch, a vegetable bar, soup, salad, beverage and dessert. The cost is $6.50 for adults, $3.50 for children 4 to 10, and children under 3 eat free of charge.

Of the three entree items, one is a carved meat, such as pork loin, ham or roast beef, the second is usually fried or baked chicken, and the third is a baked item, such as fish or a pasta dish with meat.

“The baked fish is very popular at Sunday lunch,” Bostic said. “People love that.”

On any given Sunday, from 50 to 80 non-students enjoy the cafeteria and about 60 to 80 students eat there, too. Bostic said she is always ready to take reservations for large groups.

“We really encourage that,” she said. “It’s nice to have that.”

Continuing to talk with enthusiasm about her job, Bostic said she enjoys the variety every day has to offer.

“There’s a pattern, but there are so many things that make that pattern full of excitement and change,” she said. “I like a good thing to stay the same, but I like change, too.”

She also likes the opportunity to interact with students who regularly eat in her cafeteria.

“I enjoy being in that environment where I can give to them,” Bostic said.

“They don’t have to turn in a paper, they don’t have a deadline. They just come and eat. This is their home away from home.”

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