On the scene: UMass Best Campus Food event

Event brought Princeton Review-ranked colleges together.

By 
Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

I was lucky enough to make the trip to Amherst, Mass., this week for the University of Massachusetts, Amherst-hosted Best Campus Food event. Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary services, and his dining team invited five of The Princeton Review’s top 10 campus food departments to come to UMass and put on a special event. Chefs and directors from Wheaton College, in Wheaton, Ill; Bryn Mawr, in Bryn Mawr, Pa.; Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y.; Virginia Tech University, in Blacksburg, Va., joined UMass dining in creating special menus for the event, which was held at UMass’s Berkshire Dining Commons.

Each school served three entrees, two side dishes and a dessert [see full menus for each school below], which allowed the UMass students in attendance to try out foods that their peers at other universities like to eat. Also during the event, the foodservice directors from each school gave brief talks about their campus dining programs while Lisa Mayo, from The Princeton Review, spoke about the process that is used to determine the top picks.

“In many ways, campus dining is at the forefront of the foodservice industry,” Toong wrote on his blog. “We work to highlight sustainability, healthy eating, world cuisines, and regional comfort foods. We serve discriminating customers several times a day. And we take food seriously, believing that great dining programs can enhance campus life and help colleges attract good students.

“Since this is the first time anyone has put together a guest-chef series based on The Princeton Review’s Best Campus Food ranking, we weren’t sure how our peers would accept our invitation," Toong added. "Because of limited production space, we also knew we couldn’t invite more than four schools to the event. So we were thrilled when we received positive responses. It is a privilege to feature all five universities in one venue.”

What struck me while attending the event was the genuine interest from all the schools in learning from each other. The chefs all reported that they had a ball working together in the kitchen. There was a little friendly teasing between schools when it was clear the four-cheese macaroni and cheese at the Bryn Mawr station was a student favorite but overall the directors and chefs from each college truly enjoyed the event and the chance to share a space and ideas. Many of the directors expressed a desire to remain in the top 10 so they might be invited back for a similar event next year.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
umass amherst food

Restaurateurs in Amherst, Mass., aren’t happy with UMass Dining .

Registered dietitian Dianne Sutherland told local NBC affiliate WWLP News in May that the high quality of food served on campus means students aren’t visiting neighborhood eateries as frequently as those businesses might like.

“Even our vendors who we work with, they get complaints from the restaurants that students are staying on campus,” she said. “They are already paying for the food; why should they [go] off campus to eat?” More than 19,000 Amherst students are on a meal plan—6,000 of whom live off campus...

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce eat dining

Forced to battle crumbling infrastructure and a constant churn of trends, sometimes the best way to save a foodservice operation is to change it entirely. As Steve Mangan, director of dining at the University of Michigan, puts it, “At some point when your building starts to fail, the cost of maintenance stands out.” But for operators with limited budgets, the challenge is discerning the right time to do so—and how far to take it.

At Jefferson High School, change came because little worked anymore. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, school’s cafeteria hadn’t been updated since 1957; students...

Managing Your Business
farmer produce

The seeds of farm-to-table 2.0 have officially blown into noncommercial foodservice. Since the movement has caught the attention of the segment during the past decade, operators have broadened agricultural collaborations outside of just supply. As a result, a new strain of the movement has been created that treats farms as allies in events, training and innovative growing systems.

The 500-bed Overlook Medical Center in Summit, N.J., didn’t start out sourcing produce from local farms; instead, it administered its own growing programs, including an on-site garden and honeybee apiary...

Ideas and Innovation
fsd screenshot web

A full year has passed since we redesigned FoodService Director magazine, taking the publication from its longtime tabloid dimensions to a more convenient size and more creative design, and recasting the content to provide actionable, peer-to-peer insights and ideas for FSDs.

Now we are thrilled to announce that we’ve extended the makeover to our website as well. The new FoodServiceDirector.com has been redesigned to be more engaging and even easier to use. We’ve made it faster to find information, from recipes to HR best practices, that will help you run your facility better....

FSD Resources