Chef Kraig Dixon's interactive demos inspire Loyola students and faculty

The “Krafted by Kraig” pop-ups at Loyola University New Orleans nourish attendees in multiple ways, thanks to the chef’s contagious passion.
Kraig Dixon
Chef Kraig Dixon created "Krafted by Kraig" to engage students through cooking demos. | Photo courtesy of Sodexo/Loyola University New Orleans

When Chef Kraig Dixon was hired by Sodexo to head the kitchen at Loyola University New Orleans, “I broke the ice with food,” he said.

“I started taking requests from students, asking them what foods they miss most from home,” said Dixon. “And I opened their minds to New Orleans food, showing them that it was more than spice and seafood.”

Dixon came to Loyola from the restaurant world “where there’s a huge disconnect between the chef and customers," he said. "I love being able to build personal relationships with the students.”

He was soon making arroz con pollo for the Latin American students and vegan etouffee from his own repertoire.

Then he hit on the idea of doing cooking demos to further connect and educate students as well as faculty. He even branded the pop-up events with the catchy name “Krafted by Kraig.”

“The GM gave me a chance to try it, so the first one was at the law school,” said Dixon. “I started small, making panini. Undergrads are required to be on the meal plan, but law students have to spend their hard-earned money for my food.”

And they did. He has since showcased comfort foods such as chili and shrimp creole—both hits—as well as plant-forward remakes of classics like shrimp scampi. Dixon subs shiitakes, trumpet mushrooms and portobellos for the shrimp and uses vegan butter in the sauce.

On the second Monday of the month, a farmers market is set up on campus, and Dixon demos a recipe with whatever is in season and catches his fancy. “I’ll go step by step, telling students where to get the ingredients and make the dish. It’s always quick and within their budget,” he said.

The students are nourished in more ways than one. Many are balancing financial limitations, stress-driven food cravings, a lack of nutritional knowledge and the challenge of finding time to eat right. Dixon sprinkles nutrition information throughout the demos and instills smart, self-sufficient eating habits that will endure through adulthood.

“The experience you get from Krafted by Kraig is unique,” he said.

Faculty and college staff also benefit from Krafted by Kraig. Every week, they have a special lunch period called Freret Fridays when Dixon cooks. “We have open conversations. They tell me what they want, and I’ll plan that for them,” he said. While the main attraction may be comfort food like smothered chicken, he’ll do a pop-up off to the side offering something lighter, such as seared salmon.

Dixon has thoroughly immersed himself in campus life, regularly attending sporting events, student-led clubs, concerts and more, building a rapport with students and faculty that goes deeper than the food.

“I’d like to travel around to other universities and make an impact, showing foodservice teams how Krafted by Kraig can be a great way to connect with students,” he said.



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