Campus News

Dining Commons gets first chef, wants student feedback

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The first-ever Bethel College Executive Chef, Adam Kerr, was hired in November, and he, along with Bethel Food Services, has a few plans for the future of the DC, including a student-led food committee.  “I wanted to get a more skilled chef, versus the cooks we have, said Bethel College Director of Food Services Jim Methard on hiring Kerr. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.” Style: "extra shadow"As for improvements brought upon by having Kerr on board, Methard listed a few basic ideas. “Consistency, quality, acceptability of menus,” said Methard. “Having him here … is going to allow him pass on his knowledge in training to the staff … with that in mind it’s going to increase overall satisfaction with all of the campus food services.” Kerr, who was a Sodexo chef for five years in Denver before moving back to where he grew up in Mishawaka, had a few improvements in mind as well, such as increased use of local produce, better overall menus, increasing catering on campus, and something he called “restaurant nights.” “Out there (in Denver) … we were really big into local, more organic stuff so I’d like to transition that into here,” said Kerr. “Michigan and Indiana are really big produce states so I’m hoping to source a lot of things from the local areas.” Kerr also hopes to keep the menus better and more consistent for students. “We’re planning a whole new menu next semester for the DC,” said Kerr. “It’s about a different view of things, changing menus, bringing in some new items.” “There’s nothing per se that I would stop doing, just bringing in more variety of stuff would be ideal,” said Kerr. This doesn’t mean old favorites, or old not-so-favorites won’t return. The “new menu” essentially means new rotations of foods coupled with some new items. However, Methard hopes that Kerr will have better judgment in choosing which items to keep and which to discard. “If we have something that didn’t go over well, eliminate that from the menu,” said Methard. “That’s what he (Kerr) brings.” “I can’t guarantee that we never goof,” said Methard. “Yeah we goof, absolutely, but this semester we’ve been almost always serving good-tasting, hot food.” This semester has actually had the highest-scoring student evaluations for food services in Methard’s seven years here, according to Methard. Because of that, Kerr said he doesn’t plan to make his changes too radical. “So far I think everything is great (at the DC),” said Kerr. “My purpose isn’t to change anything drastically, it’s more about catering … There’s rumors there’s supposed to be a welcome center put in next year so hopefully we’ll have more catering events there.” One interesting new potential change is restaurant nights on Saturday nights, where students can go to the DC and have a classy meal. “A meal swipe, plus a few bucks, and have a full menu, servers, white table,” said Kerr. “Pick an appetizer, pick an entrée, pick a salad.” Depending on how many students the night brings in, Kerr says it could be done more often. “I’d like it to be regional based,” said Kerr. “One night would be Italian night, Chinese night.” Kerr says that his passion in food service is catering, and he plans to increase the catering for more events around campus. You haven’t seen much of his vision this semester, however, as the DC was already set in their schedule before his arrival. Students may notice some change in 2014, though. Bethel Food Services is aware that things are not perfect, and they do have plans to improve. One way that they plan on doing this is creating a student-led food committee. “Students hear other student’s talking,” said Methard. He wants to get students to voice their opinions loud and proud. While the campus has had food committees in the past, they were generally led by resident directors and other faculty and staff members. Methard said that despite his asking, and attempts in the past to encourage student feedback, he has not heard much real criticism, and that is what led him to wanting this committee. “I talk to maybe 700 students a day going in and out, (and ask) ‘How’s lunch?’” said Methard. “And I never hear any negative feedback.” “Is that because we’re doing so good, or is that the dynamics of our campus, because we have some great students here?” said Methard. “I don’t want their position to feel like they can’t point out something that we didn’t do correctly or that we can do better because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.” How do you think Bethel’s food has been this year? Do you think it could be improved? Let us know in the comments! If you wish to speak to Jim Methard or Adam Kerr about any food related issues, you can contact them in their offices in the DC.
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