CDS Executive Chef dishes on the secrets of Mort’s

Read about the different homemade options across the Student Center during The Maneater’s six-week series.

If you’re fed up with eating in the dining halls three meals a day, the Student Center has a wide variety of freshly made options. There are six restaurants under Campus Dining Services, and nearly all the food is made from scratch right in the Student Center.

Eric Cartwright, the executive chef of CDS, gave us a behind-the-scenes look at Student Center dining.

“People definitely don’t realize what goes into what’s going on there,” Cartwright said about the freshness of the ingredients. “It’s a lot of work to do it that way. We could take shortcuts, but at the end of the day, the quality you’re going to get is worth it from taking the time to do that.”

Each week for the next six weeks, we’ll explore a new place to eat there. This week, we’re discussing Mort’s, which is located inside The Shack, a re-creation of an old MU campus hangout by the same name.

“The Shack is nothing fancy, but it’s simple food done right and done well,” Cartwright says.

Mort’s is dedicated to Mort Walker, the MU graduate who created the Beetle Bailey comic strip and reportedly spent a lot of his free time in The Shack. The modern Shack features Beetle Bailey cartoons on the walls, and wrappers that line the food trays that were drawn by Walker uniquely for Mort’s.

The food there is classic Americana, and much of it is made from scratch, a favorite being the dipping sauces and chicken tenders.

“The chicken tenders that we do — we brine (raw chicken) for 24 hours in a saltwater brine, which is part of what makes them so tasty and tender and juicy,” Cartwright said. “Then they’re breaded — we make our own breading mix. We also have our own seasoning salt mix. All that’s done by hand; they’re fried fresh, all day every day.”

Mort’s also serves breakfast, including omelets made from fresh-cracked eggs and fresh spinach. Later in the day, they serve nachos made from tortilla chips that are fried once you order them.

Along with the iconic carved benches, a vestige of the old Shack that remains at Mort’s is the Shack Sauce on the Shack Burger.

“(It’s) the original recipe from the Shack, which was a bar that used to be where the Alumni Center is,” Cartwright says. “We got (the recipe) from the last owners of that. We replicated it based on their notes, and it’s made exclusively for us. It’s that original recipe.”

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