Over the winter break this past year, Alliot’s Green Mountain Dining room seating area was renovated to enhance students’ dining experience and compete with the dining halls of other colleges. When students return in September they can expect a newly renovated food station area to match the modernized dining hall.
“The food station area is way outdated, like 1960s-70s,” said Brian Roper, Sodexo’s general manager of dining services at the college, adding that the intention is to make it look more inviting, and give it a refresh..“The Sodexo funded project is expected to be done before students arrive back on campus for the Fall semester here won’t necessarily be new food or new stations, but the stations will be moved around to create a different dining experience and upgrades will provide the chefs with more opportunities, Roper said. The new omelet/stir-fry station will have six burners and a new flattop which will expand things the chef can do instead of cooking just out of a sauté pan.
“Believe it or not, we have a ton of food options” said Roper. “We run off a database of recipes that are on a national menu and then we have the ability to customize it. Down south they serve grits a lot. Here we serve oatmeal. It’s not on the national menu but we put clam chowder out every Friday because it’s a New England thing. Roper said the staff also pays attention to the comment cards which play a large role in planning the menu.
“If you need something special, especially if you have dietary restrictions, by all means we go out of our way to take care of you and if something is bothering you, we’ll take care of it,” Roper said.
With the new renovations, Talia Torkomian ’21 hopes to see new ideas and better quality food. Over the past year, Torkomian has made big changes to her diet because of health issues “I come from a household where my dad is a chef and my eating has been very varied my whole life. In the fall I started to have some stomach issues so I started cutting out dairy and some other food groups then in January it got really bad so I had to cut out gluten,” said Torkomian. Her biggest issue was not knowing exactly what was going into all the food she was eating, “it’s super daunting not knowing exactly who is making the food and what is going in it.” After meeting with Brian Roper and the chefs at Sodexo Torkomian was able to get a better understanding of what goes into a lot of the popular foods served and how to read the cards to see what is in each item. “My hope is that there gets to be more stations where you get to pick exactly what is going in your meal,” said Torkomian. “Taking the time to get an omelet and stir-fry has been my best option because I get to choose what gets put in. “
Much of the food provided in the dining hall comes from Black River Produce, Sysco Albany (a national provider), Hillcrest for bakery supplies, and Koffee Kup Bakery which is right down the road for breads and things of that nature. Roper also partners with Krystin Achilich coordinator for the organic gardens careful planning allows for the most amount of farm fresh produce on the menu as possible, he said.