North Carolina State University: Southern food with a twist

Published in Menu Strategies

From Almond Board of California.

It’s not difficult to find traditional Southern dishes at North Carolina State University—after all, a vast majority of the university’s students come from North Carolina. But according to Randy Lait, senior director of hospitality services, a growing number of menu items blend old-school Southern with on-trend flavors.

According to Lait, today’s students have a much more adventurous palate because of early exposure to cuisines and food from around the world, and the university’s menu reflects that. "You’ll certainly find traditional versions of dishes like fried chicken, pulled pork, mashed potatoes and biscuits,” he says. “But with other menu items, we’ve tried to take Southern food and give it something interesting, like using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes or adding jalapeño to cornbread.”

Lait and his staff also scratch-make many Southern favorites, such as house-smoked pulled pork, and use that to create other innovative menu items, including a barbeque pork flatbread. Additionally, they’re very focused on offering healthful versions of classic dishes, such as menuing meat without gravies, oven-frying rather than deep-frying and serving local greens and roasted vegetables. “Healthful has been part of our scheme overall,” says Lait.

Menu Sampler: North Carolina State University

  • BBQ Pork Sandwich: house smoked pork, cole slaw & eastern NC BBQ sauce
  • Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadilla
  • Edamame Succotash
  • Howling Cow Banana Pudding Ice Cream