Spreading joy, one bun at a time

Postal workers hold up buns

“YOU’VE BEEN BUNNED!” Chef Mark Molinaro announced as he burst through the doors to NAU’s post office carrying a large box.

The wide-eyed staff members behind the desk had no idea what was happening. Then, Molinaro handed over the box, filled with buttery homemade rolls, still warm from the oven.

Startled postal workers behind the deskThese postal workers were among the first recipients of NAU’s newly relaunched Bun Run tradition.

“This fun, joy-bringing practice started over 20 years ago when the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management had an inn and restaurant where students worked. It stopped when the Inn at NAU was closed in 2008,” Molinaro said. “Our HRM team was socializing at one of our gatherings and thinking about ways we can spread the hospitality and joy that we are teaching to our students and model it across the campus and even into the Flagstaff community, and the Bun Run came to mind. So, we decided to bring back the old tradition.”

The concept is simple. When you feel inspired to thank a department, team or group either on or off campus, email shrm@nau.edu and let them know that you would like to spread some #HRMBunRun joy. Then provide the following information:

  • Your name.
  • What group you would like to love on.
  • The name and email address of the person picking up the box of 12 rolls from the HRM kitchen and delivering them to the group you chose.

HRM will then contact the person coming to pick them up and coordinate the date.

The buns will be warm, fresh and boxed by 11:45 a.m. every Wednesday.

Molinaro, who baked the rolls himself—carefully kneading, weighing and rolling out the dough, meticulously spacing them on the large cookie sheet and baking them to perfection in the oversized ovens of HRM’s demonstration kitchen—followed the original recipe created by Chef Don Carlson.

Julene Boger, assistant professor in HRM, is thrilled to see this tradition return. She was the general manager at the inn in the early 2000s and one of the original bakers of the famous rolls.

“Everyone loved Chef’s rolls when they came into the restaurant. So, we decided we were going to start packaging them up and spreading the joy around. Every Wednesday, I would recruit student help to ready the deliveries and run them all over campus,” she said.

Molinaro hopes that bringing back this tradition will encourage others to find ways to spread joy.

“We believe that everyone on the NAU campus has an idea like this one. It may take some time and logistics to bring to fruition, but we can be a living example of excellence for our students. Let’s see how much joy our campus can handle!”

Bun Run photos:

NAU Communications