Matthew Patrick Omans Kitchen
Omans Memorial Kitchen
The Omans Memorial Kitchen prepares hundreds of meals each week throughout the academic year for members and their guests. The kitchen, pantry (“Steward Closet”), and dishroom were thoroughly modernized in the 2015 building project with the expert assistance of retired restauranteur Warrem Lem ’69 O-1041.
Long the demesne of “Chefs Extraordinaire” Ray Melton and “Saucier” H. Etienne Merle, since 2014 the chapter has used catering companies for its food service.
The sudden passing of Matt Omans ’10 in 2012 shook a whole generation of brothers. His big brother, Alex “Baba” Aidun ’08, with Grayson Fahrner ’08, James Hunsberger ’10, and Bill Smith '10, rallied their classmates to contribute to the Matthew Patrick Omans Fund, intended to honor his memory through grants related to his memory, and for mental health initiatives. Fondly remembered for his stint as Steward, Omans now lends his name to the renovated kitchen, a place of nourishment and conviviality alike.
The kitchen was added to the house in the 1916 expansion; it is unclear where such a facility was located in the original 1896 house, or whether it even existed. As was common at the time, the “help” lived at the house downstairs, performing not only cooking and cleaning duties, but keeping the coal-fired boiler running at night. That job was later automated with a motorized stoker in 1952, but the coal unit was not replaced with a gas-fired boiler until 1967.
The cook's room was originally located in the far southwest corner of the house, adjacent the kitchen to the south; in the basement area to the north lay the food storage area. In 1978, the chapter purchased a new freezer that proved to be too large to fit through the door; the old cook’s room became the new Steward Closet for another thirty-five years, and the old food storage converted to use as the laundry area. With the 2015 renovation, those roles have shifted again; the Steward Closet has been moved back north of the kitchen, and the space converted into a new accessible suite, suitable for use by guests or a live-in advisor. Both areas have been walled off, so that the kitchen can no longer be accessed directly from the laundry area or from the suite.
The kitchen itself has been refurbished many times as food service practices and the chapter’s eating habits have shifted over the decades. Currently, a pantry area at the south end of the dishroom permits brothers breakfast foods (or after-hours snacks) like yogurt and cereal, and a place to store leftovers.