Reimagined dining operations focus on new menus and plastic reduction

Sept. 17, 2018

Over the summer the Campus Dining Retail team has been hard at work reimagining the dining experience at the Frist Food Gallery and among the campus cafes. The changes fall into two categories. The first involves the menus. The culinary team reworked all the menus to introduce a more diverse menu that incorporates more sustainable cooking techniques while focusing on scratch-made offerings from simple ingredients. The other change focused on the reduction of single-use plastic items and a concerted effort to introduce more reusable options.

“This is one of the largest changes we have introduced in our retail operations in many years,” explains Cristian Vasquez, Director of Retail and Catering. “It was a true team effort, and we’re excited about introducing our new programs to the campus community.”

While the changes will be rolled out across all campus locations, they will be most immediately noticed in the Frist Food Gallery. Throughout the week of September 17, the team will host a celebration where guests can ask staff about the changes, enjoy tastings and offer feedback.

new pizza station
Each station in the Frist Food Gallery features new menu items and an updated look.

New menus

tasting schedule
Tasting tables are available this week in the Frist Food Gallery.

Campus Dining chefs and managers set off on a goal to reimagine the dining experience throughout campus. The goal of redesigning the menus included offering healthier, globally diverse menu options in ways that engaged, enlightened and challenged staff. The result was that each station in the Frist Food Gallery was reimagined, with each station also supplying food to the campus cafes on a rotating schedule. The chefs also incorporate new cooking techniques that reduce water consumption in the back of the house.

The most dramatic changes occurred at the former delicatessen and food for thought stations in the Frist gallery. One now features a carving station with a daily meat and vegetable option and comfort food sides dishes, while the other includes pho, Korean fried chicken, and an assortment of dumplings.

In Cafe Vivian, smoothies and acai bowls were moved to the front of the line in order to meet strong demand from last year, while new artisan toasts made-to-order deli sandwiches were introduced.

Beat plastic pollution

beat plastic poster

A new Campus Dining campaign focuses on the elimination of plastic water bottles, plastic bags, plastic straws and plastic utensils.

Recognizing the global challenge plastic pollution presents, Campus Dining introduced four initiatives as a first step towards being part of the solution. Plastic water bottles will be eliminated from all retail and catering operations and replaced by empty refillable cups, glass bottles, and a several types of carton water. The various options are being tested, with the intention of settling on one or two permanent packaged water options by the spring semester. Plastic bags are replaced by paper bags, available only upon request.

Silverware has been placed in a more prominent position in the Frist gallery, and for to-go orders, plant-based utensils replace plastic ones. Plastic straws have been eliminated; however, both paper and plastic straws will be available at cashier stations upon request.

The team recognizes that the efforts are merely a start. Campus Dining staff continue to have conversations with the United Nations Environment Programme and the Office of Sustainability to work towards more permanent solutions.

Nourish Nook in the C-Store

Students, faculty and staff rely on the convenience store in the Frist Campus Center for quick, grand-and-go items. A new Nourish Nook provides heart-healthy choices, fiber rich foods, and no added sugar options to help energize or re-energize guests during long semester days.