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Oscar's Sadler Specialty

Oscar Gilliam is the only chef on SU campus with his own "corner" located in Sadler Dining Hall and his specialty is stir-fry.

It isn’t hard to find Oscar Gilliam at Sadler Dining Hall.

Come lunchtime, look for him cooking up stir-fry, pasta or making wraps at the cafeteria’s specialty bar by the small orange sign that reads “Oscar’s Corner.”

The spot is a tribute to Gilliam, one of the mainstays of the dining center staff, who has spent the last 24 years working there. Gilliam, a chef and food handler at Sadler, said he thinks he is the only employee on campus with his own corner of the cafeteria.

Gilliam cooking stir-fry.

“Somehow it just came about,” he said. “It sort of started out as a joke, sort of a fun thing, but it kind of stuck.”

But Gilliam’s duties at Sadler don’t end with manning the corner. He is one of two employees who arrive at 5:45 a.m. on weekdays to open up the cafeteria. All the breakfast food must be ready  when the dining hall opens at 7 a.m. Gilliam then begins to prepare lunch and desserts. By the time 11 a.m. hits and Gilliam is frying up specialty foods at his corner, his day is already halfway over.

“It’s good being busy,” he said. “It’s better than watching the clock and thinking ‘Oh, man, when am I getting out of here.’”

Gilliam usually greets the students at his corner with a smile and talks and jokes with them. He said it’s easier for him to interact with students since he works on the front lines.

“When I think about it and look at it, it is kind of great that everybody wants to come here and they like what I’m doing,” Gilliam said.

Cooking has always been a part of Gilliam’s life. At 5 or 6 years old, he occasionally cooked his mother breakfast, and grew up watching his parents cook, calling it a “way of life.”

But even one of Sadler’s veteran chefs doesn’t always feel like cooking once he’s off on nights and weekends.

“Sometimes you feel like it, sometimes you don’t,”  he said.

He said he isn’t a picky eater and enjoys eating most foods. Gilliam said he likes watching sports, cooking out, and fishing with his dad. He lives with his girlfriend and daughter in Syracuse.

He doesn’t have a favorite dish he cooks at Sadler.

“You don’t really have a time to think about a favorite because it’s always changing every day, and every minute basically,” he said.

Gilliam has seen many changes at Sadler: in the menu, in dining hall renovations, and in the staff he works with.

“All things change,” he said. “Nothing remains the same anyways.”

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