The Big Idea: Performance Dining

Performance Dining educates students about the relationship between food, energy output and the body's use food to improve the mind, body and spirit.

Eric Montell
Executive Director, Stanford Dining
Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.

Last fall, we opened Arrillaga Family Dining Commons, a state-of-the-art dining facility with a central production kitchen. The dining hall features Performance Dining, which was developed by Stanford Dining in partnership with Stanford Athletics, the School of Medicine and The Culinary Institute of America.

Over the last several years, Residential & Dining Enterprises Senior Associate Vice Provost Shirley Everett and I had met with Brandon Marcello, the director of Sports Performance, to discuss creating a first-of-its-kind Performance Dining initiative on the Stanford campus. As part of this initiative, a Wellness and Performance Dining Nutritionist position was created in Stanford Dining to collaborate on the program. As an alum of The Culinary Institute of America, I also created a strategic partnership with the CIA to help with menu and recipe development and to access the culinary expertise of the CIA’s staff of certified master chefs.

Performance Dining consists of six main categories: enhanced immunity, anti-inflammatory components, food synergy, brain performance, sports performance and antioxidants. The Performance Dining program was designed with synergistic food and nutrient combinations and performance themes in mind to help students perform at their mental and physical peak. Wellness and Performance Dining falls under our EatWell program, which encompasses fresh, healthy and sustainable food. The goal of the program, which is open to all students on the dining plan, is to educate students about the relationship between food components, energy output and ability of the body to use food components to improve performance in mind, body and spirit. We also want students, staff and faculty to develop new eating habits that improve their well-being throughout their lifetime. Affecting change in their dining habits through a program of this nature will influence a lifetime of eating behaviors and the eating habits of those within their future influence. This program could become a model for other university dining programs to influence and greatly affect the eating habits of their students.

The cooking suite at Arrillaga is used to prepare food for the dining hall, as well as to cook food to order for the training table during dinner and late-night service. The suite includes a sauté station with two types of gas-fired range tops—open burners and French-top style. The back side of the suite features a griddle, charbroiler and fryer station.

The suite also has an integral bain marie, coolers and freezers. A fire onyx “chef’s counter” allows a handful of students to enjoy front-row seats to the alchemy and artistry taking place in the cooking suite. Three high-definition video cameras aimed at the suite can be broadcast on four networked flat-panel screens in the surrounding area to engage large student audiences in the cooking production.

Approaching wellness from a holistic perspective, Arrillaga also has a conference room that doubles as a multipurpose wellness room, with a sprung hardwood floor for classes such as dance, yoga and pilates. A separate study room with a ceiling-mounted projector is used for hosting seminars and classes related to wellness.

Our students enjoy sustainable and healthful food, Performance Dining, menu options catering to dietary or lifestyle restrictions, extended operating hours and customized food cooked to order. In addition the new facility caters to students’ overall well-being with spaces that are conducive to wellness, nutrition, culinary excellence, exercise, stress reduction, community-building and relaxation. 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
bus advertising jagermeister

Because many locals use the bus system, we paid for some full bus wraps to advertise [job openings within] our dining services program. The buses go all over campus where students can see them, and to apartments where the public can see them. To top it off, the cost wasn’t much more than newspaper rates.

Managing Your Business
line kings girl goat open kitchen

Open kitchen concepts satisfy guests’ curiosity and desire for transparency. But there are some caveats. Here’s how to create a positive experience for both staff and customers when the walls are down.

Train to serve

With the back-of-house up front, everybody gets hospitality training. “Our cooks understand the food and what they’re doing incredibly, but translating that to guests requires [soft] skills that need to be honed,” says Marie Petulla, co-owner of two restaurants in Southern California.

Dress for a mess

At Girl & The Goat in Chicago, chef-owner Stephanie...

Ideas and Innovation
regions hospital exterior

One of our new concepts, YumMarket, is a play off our YumPower brand that we have out in the community. We use YumPower in K-12 schools, and there’s a kiosk in a nearby minor league ballpark. We feature only better-for-you choices, such as fresh-made pizzas, sandwiches and healthy grain salads. We want people to know we are taking care of people here the same way we are in the overall community.

Ideas and Innovation
herb garden wall

In high-volume operations, few look at herb gardens as the end-all-be-all budgeting solution. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a return on the investment. The value, operators say, is in the message herb gardens and herb walls send—that an operation uses ingredients that are fresh, sustainable and healthy. Here’s how the growing areas have paid off at three operations.

A cafeteria wall at Miles River Middle School in South Hamilton, Mass., houses three rows of hydroponic lettuce spearheaded by an interdisciplinary group of health, science, math, technology and foodservice employees...

FSD Resources