Culinary Inspires Design at Rice U.

Aug. 21—With a roof garden, natural burgers and LEED standard design, a new dining facility at 5,000-student Rice University in Houston is ready to wow new and returning students. David McDonald, dining services director, said his culinary staff heavily influenced the building’s design.

“Because of the strength of our culinary team [the team has 13 ACF certified chefs, seven of whom were certified this past year] and the fact that they had so many years of experience, the team sat down with the designers and told them what worked and what didn’t,” McDonald said. “The chefs gave input on everything from the salad bar to the design of the storeroom, including the type of equipment and the brand. The new Wood Stone pizza oven was a big one. Since we have our own bakery, we make our own pizza dough, and we had been using pass through pizza ovens but the Wood Stone is going to open up a bunch of doors to making our own Focaccia and flatbreads.”

McDonald says another new feature this year will be all-natural Angus beef hamburgers.

“I decided to take Rice on the course of doing things from a wellness standpoint,” McDonald said. “We’re looking at every one of our products and seeing how we can make it healthier. The good news is that we were already about 90% scratch-made kitchens anyway. But that 10% of frozen stuff included hamburger patties and it gets scary with all the stuff that’s in them. So we looked at natural beef patties and we saw that the premade ones are outrageously expensive. But if I bring in whole beef and grind and form the patties ourselves, then we can break even.”

As for the actual design of the new facility, McDonald says the department brought in a European architect to design a classical building with lots of brickwork. Rice uses a “college” system, so students live and eat together. The new servery serves two dorms and about 700 students.

“The kitchen itself is state of the art,” McDonald said. “We’re using all Vulcan equipment including blast chillers and combi ovens and our focal point of this servery is the Wood Stone pizza oven. The servery is a hot line, pizza station, salad bar, dessert and beverage stations. So it’s a mixture of a scatter system and a buffet style. It’s self-service and all-you-care-to-eat. It’s also set up for display cooking and we do that occasionally.”

The design also strived to be environmentally responsible, such as using no floor coverings in the kitchen and servery.

“The kitchen and servery have unfinished floors so its just concrete,” McDonald said. “Not using floor coverings was part of LEED standards because it saves money and doesn’t do anything to contribute wrongly to the environment. The building also has a rooftop garden that we hope to use to grow herbs eventually. Right now we’re still hammering away at the safety concerns for food up there, so it’s just used to help cool the building.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Just over 100 foodservice workers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have voted to join a branch of the Service Employees International Union, KIMT reports.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota said that 89% of the ballots cast during last week’s election were in favor of unionizing.

The workers are employed by Sodexo, Mayo Clinic’s current foodservice vendor. The clinic recently announced plans to switch vendors to Morrison Healthcare Food Services, a move that has sparked backlash from workers and led to a lawsuit from the SEIU .

Read the full story via .

Sponsored Content
pasta dish from NC State

From Barilla.

Good-for-you food doesn’t do much good if it’s a hard sell to get diners to eat it. Luckily, pasta is nearly always a crowd-pleaser, especially with student athletes who benefit from its nutritional boost.

“One thing about pasta is that students like it,” says Lisa Eberhart, a registered dietician and director of nutrition and wellness for North Carolina State University, where they serve Barilla pasta. “It’s also a great source of slow-burning carbohydrates.”

In fact, 57% of Gen Z consumers and 58% of millennials call pasta a “preferred food,”...

Industry News & Opinion

The Los Angeles Unified School District has lifted its ban on flavored milk in an effort to reduce food waste, the Los Angeles Times reports.

After implementing the ban in 2011, the district noticed that many students would simply throw away their unused milk containers, causing them to end up in landfills. In order to combat the problem, the district’s board is launching a four-part study in 21 schools that will examine different ways to encourage kids to drink more plain milk.

One of the theories proposed is that students will be more likely to drink plain milk if they...

Industry News & Opinion

As Harvard University’s dining staff strike continues , the school has added an extra $25 to student accounts, providing more flexibility for students to eat outside of the dining halls, The Harvard Crimson reports.

The extra funds were added to Crimson Cash and BoardPlus accounts, which students can use to pay for food both on and off campus.

Aside from some technical issues with payment processing, students are grateful for the extra money, according to The Harvard Crimson.

Since the strike began two weeks ago, students have complained about food quality in the...

FSD Resources