New Dining Services menus to bring 'healthy' change for fall

The McMahon Dining Hall on the UConn campus in Storrs, Connecticut. (Bailey Wright/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut’s Dining Services is working on new recipes and menus for the fall 2016 semester, effective in all eight dining halls, retail operations, cafes, the Food For Thought university food truck and more, according to Dining Services culinary operations manager Robert Landolphi.

Recipe testing and new menu development are currently in the works and will continue during the summer. All of the recipes that are currently being tested will appear on facility menus for the upcoming fall semester, Landolphi said.  

“But the biggest project is testing new recipes for the revamp of our Putnam dining facility,” Landolphi said.

Once opened in fall 2016, Putnam Refectory will have an exclusive Juice Bar, where students can select from a choice of fruits and vegetables (blueberries, mangoes, strawberries, bananas, apples, grapes, kale, baby spinach, beets, carrots, celery, cilantro, etc.) and a booster (green blend, antioxidant, energy and protein). The concoctions will be blended and served, Landolphi said.

Putnam will also have themed stations. Recipes for an international street/ethnic food station include vindaloo (chicken and vegetarian), samosas (chicken and vegetarian), tamarind sauce and cilantro chutney. There will also be vegan/vegetarian food station and favorite local routes dishes that were served at Whitney.

“We want to continue to keep our menus evolving so they are interesting and exciting,” Landolphi said.

Additionally, recipe testing is being conducted for an eggs benedict bar, a huevos rancheros bar, a poutine bar and a “grains and greens” bar. New fish recipes, vegan crab cakes, lemon lobster salad on a buttered roll, sweet tea and bourbon fried chicken, Kung Pao chicken pizza “and much, much, much more” are in the works for the dining facilities’ menus, Landolphi said.

“Our goal is to make necessary changes to all our menus every semester,” Landolphi said. “This means looking at what tends and flavor profiles are popular nationally and what requests have been made by our customers (students),” Landolphi said.

Landolphi said he and his team of nine production chefs, whom represent the dining halls and retail operations, are all highly involved in the testing process, from coming up with ideas to coming up with the final product.

“Ideas come from our teams of chefs, trade magazines, food shows, students and the National Association of College and University Foodservices Regional and National conferences,” Landolphi said. “Our culinary team is always looking to build our menus around seasonality.”

Landolphi said new recipes are more fun to create in the fall, due to a wider array of available local resources such as produce. While Dining Services uses produce from the Spring Valley Student Farm, they also source from many farms around Connecticut. 

“Change is healthy. It not only keeps the food interesting for our customers, but it also keeps the food interesting to our team of chefs who prepare it every day,” Landolphi said.  “We are starting to see people refer to food as medicine. It’s important that we do our part to keep our customers properly nourished so they can succeed academically.”