Unlike most schools and colleges that use an outside food service, food at Dublin is prepared by our employees. Head Chef, Sven Green is adamant on building a food culture centered around healthy eating. When he talks about foods with his staff, he emphasizes continuously increasing our use of "live" foods versus "dead" foods. He defines this difference simply: live food is prepared from scratch by his team; and, dead food is anything coming out of a can.
To do that, Sven is continuously searching for local and regional suppliers, including our student and faculty-maintained vegetable garden. The goal is for everything to be grown or raised within 100 miles of the school and prepared in our own kitchen. He sees the results in the salad bar. Over the last year, demand for salad has increased over 300% each day. Sven attributes that to the use of local foods - "we make our own bacon bits every day. Everything is made within hours of eating it. The crunchy things are all organic - sesame sticks and wild rice are sourced at the Nature's Green Grocer in Peterborough. Even with those, I am trying to build layers of nutrition. Everything has to have nutritional value."
Finding the right balance is not easy. "American kids tend to be addicted to brands. When they first come to Dublin and try the homemade mac and cheese that we make, it is different from the orange stuff that comes out of a box. What we make is all from authentic ingredients. I am trying to teach them not to take food for granted." In part, Sven is also reacting to changes in student's dietary habits and requirements. He estimates that 20% of Dublin students are vegetarian, vegan or require a gluten-free diet. This requires a great amount of flexibility "cooking off the menu for those that have special requirements."
Sven has started a Food Committee of nine students. The goal is to involve them in menu planning to balance the desire for the familiar with the new. One of the members, iZel Van Epps (San Anselmo, CA), has suggested that they make an authentic Latin taco. They will be offering this in the next several weeks. Pork and potato based, it will have none of the 'Tex-Mex' style condiments such as sour cream and guacamole that are a part of the Americanized fast-food style taco. This offering will be both a more authentic and healthier alternative. Sven thinks "the more diverse you can eat, the better off you will be..."
When asked to describe a successful and good day, Sven reflects," I get joy when -- well, it's as simple as when one of the students asks me to make something again."