Article from The Guilfordian
This article is part of a series highlighting the often overlooked amount of work that goes into keeping our campus fed.
Founders Dining Hall. The Cafeteria. The Caf. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this place is a staple of the Guilford experience.
At some point or another, we have all enjoyed a meal there, shared a smile with the staff or ate way too much ice-cream from the ice-cream bar — guilty.
How many of us, however, have actually thought about the work that goes into it all?
“There are a lot of things that I think the community doesn’t see,” said Long Nghiem, district manager of Meriwether Godsey, the company that caters Guilford’s dining halls.
“All the hard work that (the dining staff) does is fantastic. They’re committed, and it really is a true partnership with the students. They love the community and they’re here to serve it.”
From planning menus and purchasing ingredients to preparing and serving three meals a day, a lot of work goes into running the dining halls here on campus.
“When you have to produce, for example, mashed potatoes for 1,000 people, that’s a big deal,” said Nghiem. “Think about when you’re at Thanksgiving and you have a family of about 20 people over, multiply that by 50 — for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
Planning for each semester begins immediately following graduation, which allows dining services to operate more smoothly throughout the year.
“The operation is smooth and it is efficient, and becomes effective because there is a lot of planning and a lot of organization that goes into it,” said Snehal Deshmukh, director of dining services. “It simply becomes a matter of executing an operation”
The cafeteria’s menus prioritize balance and variety, things that, as a company, Meriwether Godsey strives to provide.
“The misconception we often hear is that we don’t want to (serve something), or that we can’t do it or don’t know how to, but that’s not the case,” said Nghiem. “We’re constantly trying to bring balance and to please the entire community. It’s our due diligence to prepare healthy made-from-scratch food.”
On top of all of this, dining services has also dedicated itself to promoting sustainability here on campus. Deshmukh’s team has even collaborated with the on-campus farm as a supplier for fresh produce.
“This partnership serves as an example of how local food can be incorporated into institutional kitchen settings,” said Nicholas Mangili, farmer and employee of the Sustainability Department. “If a farmer can meet the demand, institutions serve as great markets for local food expansion.
“For myself and the students that work and volunteer on the farm, it’s great to walk in for lunch and see the hard work of the farm and the cafeteria come together for a great meal.”
Dining services and its staff are clearly dedicated to the students here at our school.
“Food service is a very passionate job,” said Desmukh. “You have to have great passion for it. It is, however, a very gratifying (experience). Students on campus really come to know us and we really come to know the students. We become a family.”
As a community, we should try to be more mindful of the work they all do for us every day. They are, after all, a part of the family.
Article from The Free Lance-Star
For me they’ve come in such disparate places as a mountaintop, a tropical island, a Paris train station, an open-air marketplace stall south of the border.
Sometimes it’s the food that’s stellar; other times it’s the ambience or the setting. And if you’re lucky, it’s all three combined.
That type of experience is getting harder to come by all the time, especially at chain restaurants, where everything from soup to nuts has been engineered and controlled for your dining pleasure.
But thanks to a reader recommendation, my wife and I recently enjoyed a meal that would be awfully hard to duplicate, at Robins Tea House at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden just north of Richmond.
First off, this is one gorgeous garden. Well, more like a dozen themed gardens on 40 well-tended acres, plus a conservatory with some amazing orchids in bloom. And I’m not even a flower guy, or much of a shrub lover, for that matter. Truth is, I go to a garden or Southern plantation and I risk contracting a bad case of “museum-itis.”
Some things you’ll need to know from the get-go: You’ve got to be a member or pay admission to the garden to eat in the tea house. There’s a seasonal lunch menu for weekdays and a seasonal brunch menu for weekends.
A bit of good news: Tea house portions don’t resemble the itty-bitty sandwich and pastry bites you find in tea rooms. Lewis Ginter also features another dining venue, a café with cafeteria-style self-service, which might be a better option for those with young kids.
The tea house incorporates some Asian design elements in its structure, but is so named for the Asian Valley Garden that surrounds it. With its floor-to-high-ceiling windows and exposed beam construction it resembles a great big pool house.
The dining room’s great acoustics, due to the use of special tiles overhead, helped showcase the soft jazz and New Age music on the sound system. While we were there, a couple was busy considering the tea house as a potential site for their wedding reception.
We started things off with a delightful lavender-lemonade cocktail and three apps: a smooth and creamy cup of roasted red-pepper crab soup that had a little heat to it; a colorful baby kale salad, with turnips, sweet potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, almonds and Green Goddess dressing that looked like a work of art; and arancini—house-made butternut-squash risotto that had been lightly battered and flash-fried. It would have been nice to have a sauce with the latter; the three golden, perfectly crisped rice balls looked a little spare all by their lonesome. However, their delicate sweet, nutty flavor really didn’t require enhancing.
For entrées we got the “house-made buttermilk biscuits with traditional red-eye gravy” and “fall hash,” an autumn play on the traditional breakfast staple, with duck confit, bacon, caramelized onions, butternut squash, potatoes, fresh herbs and a sunny-side-up farm egg on top. Both mains came with a side of salad greens dressed with balsamic, which gave the plates nice balance and composition.
The hash was a winner, pleasingly earthy and rustic. The biscuits and gravy had a couple of issues: First, the gravy, which was more of a sawmill or sausage gravy, wasn’t as advertised, and second, too much fresh sage overpowered the mild, creamy flavors of the dish.
I guess the real question is: Why put biscuits and gravy on a bistro-style menu in the first place? Wouldn’t this be better left to Aunt Sarah’s or Cracker Barrel? This is one dish you don’t want to overseason or overly experiment with.
We had satisfyingly robust coffee, with chocolate gelato, for dessert. With less air and fat than ice cream, the gelato had a flavor that was unusually direct, hard and fast. It went a long way toward redeeming our brunch.
Verdict: The food, setting and ambience of Robins Tea House all add up to one very memorable dining experience.
Article from Inspiration Lab
Sidwell Friends has been committed to cleaner and greener food since 2004; its “Green Cuisine” program now incorporates, wherever possible, ingredients and practices that are truly sustainable.
Teaching “food intelligence” is an important factor. The menu planning, preparation methods, ingredients, and dishes make everyone on campus more mindful. “Meatless Menus” emphasize that eating less meat is better for our health and environment, reducing factory farming, water contamination, land degradation, and greenhouse gases. Using local, seasonal ingredients maximizes freshness and minimizes the distance food is transported, thus saving energy, reducing pollution, and supporting local farmers and merchants.
Mealtimes are also opportunities for students to discover where the food on their menu originates and what it does for their bodies; they learn to avoid waste by taking only the amount of food they’ll actually eat, a practice that contributes to a more affordable dining program. On a daily basis the school ships its compost to local farms, which includes Sandy Spring Friends School’s farm.
When everything comes together in the cafeteria, the results are impressive, and include a main entrée hot bar with a vegetarian option; nutrient-rich dark green leafy vegetables seasoned only with fresh herbs—some from the Lower or Middle School rooftop gardens—and fresh salad, sandwich, fruit, and yogurt options. There are no processed foods, added MSG, trans fats, fried foods, added-sugar sweets, high-mercury fish, high-fat ingredients and recipes, or non-seasonal imported foods.
Each food-related goal is reflected in the menu and experienced in the food served. Students are now more open to new foods and tastes, a testament to the success of “Green Cuisine.”
For more detailed information on the program visit this link.
Submitted by Hayley Reed
The Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce held a Wake Up To Business breakfast event from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 17, at HopeTree Family Services in Salem.
Members of the community and the chamber joined HopeTree President and Executive Director Stephen Richerson for a video presentation, networking and delicious food catered by HopeTree’s dining services.
HopeTree also announced that it will be celebrating its 125th anniversary of providing care for at-risk children and youth, as well as adults with developmental disabilities, in 2015.
The Salem-Roanoke County Chamber would like to thank HopeTree for their membership and support.
VOTED #1 BEST SCHOOL LUNCHES IN AMERICA
“If you’ve got the two First Daughters enrolled at your academy, you’d better be sure the lunch is luxurious. And that’s exactly how it is at Sidwell. Cuisines you’d never dream of show up on the menu here, such as an entire lunch of Brazilian delicacies like feijoada, caldo verde soup, all-natural chicken with coconut milk, and mango and pineapple with lime and mint. There’s a soup every day, like borscht, creamy spinach soup or Tuscan white bean, and creative dishes like the Creole caprese salad or hot and sour Cajun gumbo served on “Fat Tuesday.””
Admit it: When you were a whippersnapper paying your dues in your local school system, you probably tried to avoid the mystery meat of the day the way a vegan avoids eating animals. With few exceptions — namely extra-crispy pepperoni pizza (round or rectangle; they both met the minimum edibility requirements, if “edibility” is, in fact, a word), cookies, copious quantities of chocolate milk, and the ultimate juggernaut of taste when it came to cafeteria food: glorious, golden-baked Jamaican beef patties — it was simply too high a social risk to consume the majority of mysterious conglomerations that “lunch ladies” ladled onto those flimsy, Styrofoam trays.
To a teenager who used about a quarter-cup of hair gel every morning to form perfect scalp stalagmites, the choice between starving oneself at lunch and then having to run two miles during eighth-period gym class on an empty stomach versus the unknown possibilities that could ensue from scarfing some of Ethel and Gertrude’s “secret-recipe” chili was as clear as vodka.
Thank goodness somebody realized how backwards it was to serve such unappealing, nutritionally lacking lunches. In the past decade, enormous changes have been made nationwide in the ways learning institutions feed our offspring. Initiatives have been undertaken where schools have students manage organic gardens on premises and take field trips to local farms to learn where their lunch originates and how it grows. Budgets have been utilized more thoughtfully and efficiently, investing in these same farms to supply students with the freshest ingredients and an abundance of healthy choices, and in other creative, culinary-geared ways.
Some of the public schools (and, in some cases, entire districts) that made this list earned their place by overhauling pre-existing systems that were clearly in need of a makeover; others were added because their private school status afforded them the luxury of an on-staff celebrity chef (I’m not kidding, people). Most of these schools integrate nutrition, food history, and business and economic principles — like supply and demand and supply-chains — into curriculum by way of their culinary programs, some going as far as to bring esoteric teachings like bee-keeping into the mix. And our top school on the list had better have gourmet fare in its cafeteria — it’s where the POTUS’s daughters attend.
Schools like The Calhoun School in Manhattan, New York, have a French culinary chef weighing-in on the menu design, and ten-day menus are even submitted a week in advance. Others like the high schools in Burlington, Vermont, source a third of all their ingredients for the lunches locally and add bonus fruits and vegetables, and unlimited milk to meals for hungry students.