University News

BDS innovates for new semester

With more vegetable-centric options, trendy dishes attempt to cater to student demand

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The start of the semester inherently brings about changes: new roomates, new classes and new activities. Perhaps most important to students — a group infamous for thinking with their stomachs — are the new offerings in dining halls and eateries brought about due to student demand and the creative efforts of the Brown Dining Staff, said Aaron Fitzsenry, culinary manager of retail dining.

“We always keep an eye out for new things happening in our industry,” he said. “It’s one of the things we spend some time on every summer, where we see what’s new, what’s fun, what’s interesting, what else we can provide.”

“They’re out and about, seeing what’s out there in current restaurant trends and different trends in colleges and universities,” Janet Parris, Verney-Wooley dining operations manager, said of BDS, adding that the staff then works to bring these innovations to campus.

The Blue Room, which regularly experiments with new offerings, has introduced savory scones and a variety of baked goods, including yogurt-cherry danishes and parmesan-leek pastries. The eatery will also offer new soups reflective of gastronomic trends: Fitzsenry mentioned a chicken, kale and sweet potato soup as one of his favorite new additions.

Josiah’s is also embracing the present popularity of vegetable-centric cuisine, bringing in new ingredients to the salad bar, including a local veggie burger crumble made with sweet potatoes, black beans and chipotle spices that is both vegan and wheat-free. The dumpling station is also making a comeback at Jo’s Two Burners, due to popular demand, Fitzsenry said.

Southern comfort food, another fad taking over the culinary world, is entering the kitchens of Andrews Commons, which now offers a chicken-waffle pizza. “It’s fun, it’s trendy, it’s a little weird,” Fitzhenry said. Other new items will include pepper beef and general tso’s chicken at the wok station and breakfast burritos during weekend brunch.

“I think when [Andrews] first opened last year, it really didn’t have a lot of options. … I was getting bored going every single day there,” said Hannah Pullen-Blasnik ’16, adding that she appreciates the new variety.

On the other side of campus, the Ivy Room is “going to be a bit more high end,” Fitzenry said. The vegetarian eatery will now host a veggie burger bar, featuring flavors such as samosa and mediterranean-style chickpea-olive, Fitzsenry said. He added that these burgers can be topped with fashionable add-ons, such as fried eggs, guacamole and fried onion rings.

“The response to veggie burgers has been phenomenal,” he said. “The sales numbers are comparable to Kabob and Curry sales.”

The mac and cheese station, an old favorite with Ivy Room customers, is also seeing changes: The dish is being served baked this semester, allowing for faster service time, Fitzsenry said.

The dining halls have not been left out of the semester’s epicurean revamp. They will serve more whole grains — particularly the popular four “ancient grains” wheat berry, red quinoa, farro and spelt, Fitzenry said, adding that they will be featured in dishes such as grain salads.

Assistant Manager for Residential Dining Bob Machado said students inspired most dining hall changes.

“Ultimately we try to base what we do on students,” he said. “We want to keep the students here on meal plan.”

“Brunch is kind of a big deal,” Machado said, citing the addition of white tablecloths during the Sharpe Refectory’s weekend brunch as a way to make it more appealing.

And it worked: “I think the tablecloths make me feel like I’m dining with elegance,” said Marie Raglow-DeFranco ’15.

Though “elegance” may not have come to the mind of every dining hall visitor, students interviewed were generally pleased with the changes. Miles Slack ’18 said he is happy with his campus dining experience so far, adding that the food is “probably like 100 percent better than other colleges.”