Building a better salad bar

Published in FSD Update

Salad bars offer variety, excitement and healthy choices for less.

A salad bar at Texas Tech.

There’s perhaps no easier way to incorporate a large variety of local, seasonal and healthy choices on your menu than with a salad bar. Just ask Chuck Hatfield, director of product development for Sodexo’s Corporate Services Division—his salad bar was ranked by consumers as their favorite café destination. That distinction is no surprise when you consider the plethora of ingredients found on the bar: asparagus, grilled artichokes, heirloom tomatoes, roasted corn and root vegetables, and a variety of grains like farro and quinoa are just a few of the offerings available each day.

Scott Bruhn, executive chef at Iowa State University, in Ames, can relate. He runs four salad bars, each with a standard set of dozens of ingredients. As a rule of thumb, Bruhn recommends 50% veggies and 50% protein and other items like cheese, meat and nuts. “We are committed to offering a large selection because our students need variety in their diets and the ability to be creative,” Bruhn explains. 

Other operators agree. Laurence Shiner, executive chef for Sodexo Campus Services at Western Illinois University’s Corbin-Olson Dining Center, in Macomb, offers 40-plus fresh ingredients on his salad bar, in addition to grilled proteins like Cajun shrimp and steak. Peter Testory, assistant director of support and culinary operations at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, rotates in as many local products as he can on his salad bar, while John S. Pelton, foodservice director and executive chef at River Region Medical Center, in Mississippi, serves housemade ranch dressing on his bar alongside low-fat premade options. And Drew Latham, chef at Texas Tech’s The Commons, in Lubbock, has upped the salad bar ante with a self-serve guacamole bar complete with red and green salsa, roasted corn salsa, pico de gallo, limes, cilantro and onions.

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