There is a growing demand for better food on college campuses.
College students’ increased interest in gourmet food is exactly what led Dave Lieberman to host a public access cooking show in his senior year at Yale called, “Campus Cuisine.” His show focused on teaching college students how to make meals with seasonal ingredients, and how to spice up sometimes bland dining hall food.
He is now expanding his audience of would-be chefs with a new show on Food Network, “Good Deal with Dave Lieberman,” and his book, “Young & Hungry.”
“Ten years ago it was unthinkable to have sushi in the dining hall,” Lieberman said. “A wider availability of food and a wider interest has created a demand for colleges to provide higher quality products.”
”Students at Mills are demanding more variety and healthier foods on campus,” said Dorothy Calimeris, catering manager for Mills College. “There is more of a demand for freshness and students want more types of ethnic cuisine.”
Calimeris recently attended a National Association for College Food Services seminar and she said colleges throughout California are taking a proactive step toward healthier foods, such as organic produce, on their campuses.
Roselia Zendejas, the resident dining manager for Mills College, agreed with Calimeris. “It’s the little things,” she said. “Few people know that raisins have the highest concentration of pesticides of any fruit. The grapes can’t be washed before the drying process.” That’s one of the reasons Mills buys organic raisins for the salad bar at Founders.
Zendejas said that Mills has been ahead of the game. The Bay Area has always been a leader in gourmet food and Mills has had an organic vegan line of food available to students. She also said that Executive Chef Robert Quesada is picking up where the former chef left off, offering a variety of fresh ingredients at Founders.
Kasey Lindsay, a senior and co-founder of the “Other Cooking Club,” (which differs from the vegetarian “Cooking Club” by cooking with meat) said the reason for the creation of food clubs on campus was “students’ general dissatisfaction with bland food.”
Lindsay said that the food in the dining halls still leaves something to be desired, but credits the new chefs with noticeable improvement.
“Students would still like to see more fresh food, and we are tired of eating for lunch what we had for dinner last night,” said sophomore Kelly Meehleib.
Calimeris said that many colleges are also turning to Green campuses. UC Santa Cruz has a sustainable food service program that is maintained by students. Mills is also making the move toward a greener campus. Zendejas said that Mills composts 97 percent of the food waste and about the same in other recyclables. “We’re not officially Green, but we’re working as hard as we can.”
Each dining hall has comment cards conveniently located so students can give feedback or suggestions about the food on campus. Quesada encourages all students to submit suggestions about the kinds of food they would like to see on campus.