A Wyoming Welcome

Geography and regional nuance set the stage for a university’s year-long series of dinners promoting American cuisines.

Much is said about how non-commercial foodservice is tied to the mission of the organization, be it a corporation, hospital, school or college. Much is also said about how foodservice departments can and should develop promotions that highlight their talents, increase customer counts and boost their image among the clientele.

Where do these two concepts meet? For some, they meet in the form of theme dinners—like they do at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, where the dining services team recently held its Welcome to Wyoming themed dinner, kicking off a year-long series of special dinners meant to link dining services with the university’s educational program.

This year’s series—focusing on regional American cuisine—follows the program’s debut series last year. That series exposed students to dishes from around the world, including China, India, Germany and several African nations, while deepening the staff’s working knowledge of how to prepare authentic ethnic dinners, says director of dining service Dave Wallace.

The team also hung informative posters and displayed native artifacts hailing from the featured country of each event to educate students on the various cultures represented. 

In planning the events, the dining services teamed up with the university’s Passport for Success program, a residential services initiative that offers seminars, activities and other resources to students living on campus and gives support to help them succeed academically. “One of the goals of our department was to integrate the dining services into the academic mission of the university and we thought Passport for Success was a good fit,” says Wallace.

After the globe-trotting theme of last year’s series, Wallace decided to bring the program back home. This academic year, it is featuring American cuisine, including:

  • A New England-themed Thanksgiving feast.
  • A Floridian winter holiday meal.
  • Southwestern flavors in January. 
  • Southern cuisine, with an emphasis on African American influences for Black History Month. "

Because of the success of the program last year, we decided to continue down that road, but to stay within the confines of the United States,” Wallace says—“a Tour of America.”

The first dinner of the year, held at the university’s Marché-platform–style Washakie Dining Center, was the Welcome to Wyoming event, which featured dishes such as buffalo fajitas with ranch-style beans, broiled fresh spring trout, elk stew served in a bread bowl and sage corn bread with Wyoming honey butter.

“Throughout the dining hall we had poster stand-ups explaining the history of Wyoming,” Wallace says, “and posters (with information on) famous people and state facts to educate students about our state.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Ideas and Innovation
university chicago medical center renovation workers

As The University of Chicago Medical Center prepared for the revamp of one of its kitchens to feed an additional 202 patients, it wasn’t just foodservice executives coming to the table to make decisions. The process, which began in fall 2014, involved hourly employees from the ground up, says Daryl Wilkerson, vice president of support services. “They actually helped build this [kitchen], which is why I think this is so spectacular,” he says. “Normally what you’ll get in a lot of projects is senior people sitting around in shirts and ties making decisions.”

The hospital follows the...

Ideas and Innovation
idea bulb innovation concept

There’s no feeling quite like the “spark of inspiration” that Dawn Aubrey , associate director of housing for dining services at the University of Illinois, cites in this month’s Steal This Idea-themed cover story. That rush of blood and endorphins to the brain when everything comes together is like nothing else, and often finds me falling over furniture because I’m so excited to start putting plans into action. Unfortunately, I also bruise easily.

Throughout this issue, we’ve highlighted stealable ideas in all realms of noncommercial foodservice, from protein-focused sides to...

Managing Your Business
empty drive thru window

The University of Vermont Medical Center cafes often overflowed with diners at lunchtime. But adding another cafe wouldn’t be enough. “We definitely needed another place for people,” says Garden Atrium supervisor Tanya McDonald.

That’s why the UVM Medical Center this fall opened a takeout window in its new Garden Atrium cafe, a part of the design scheme before the cafe even opened last year.

Not wanting to pressure the staff—and struggling with technological delays—dining services began with a monthslong soft launch, opening the takeout window to about 200 employees through...

FSD Resources