Zag Dining’s Student Culinary Council: an opportunity to get your voice heard on anything relating to on-campus dining. Snacks provided.

Zag Dining wants to hear from students, offering monthly meetings that allow students to share their opinions about what it is like to eat at the COG. Student Culinary Council meetings provide the opportunity for students to hear from the chefs, learn about new food options and give input on anything that might improve their on-campus dining experience.

At the past council meeting, which took place Feb. 4, two students were in attendance. The three staff members, including  Tim Lemke, Zag Dining’s operations director of resident dining, and Hayden Thrasher, the health and wellness manager, outnumbered the students who came.

“We want to know students’ thoughts and opinions in order to learn how we can improve communication,” Thrasher said.

This is especially important in light of the recent pump failure in John J. Hemmingson Center, which caused the COG to be closed for five days, sending students to Cataldo Hall and off campus to eat.

The executive chef at the COG, Jeremy Goldsmith, also attends council meetings hoping to gain an insight into what students are interested in eating.

He wants to know whether they like routine, repeating menus or whether they want to see more variety and creativity in the meals provided.

“I’m just interested in what you guys want,” Goldsmith said at the beginning of the meeting. “I love innovating with food, but the most important thing is what the students want to be eating.”

This passion shines through in the way he talks about all sorts of ways to prepare food. Those who attended the meeting got an insight into the processes of pickling, beekeeping and making homemade yogurt.

He doesn’t want to keep this excitement to himself. His goal is to make students excited about the food, too.

This week, the council got to sample items from the new pickled vegetable and hummus bar, which has been slowly expanding during dinner at Daily Bread throughout the last three weeks. This is part of an attempt to offer more nutritious options on the menu, as pickled foods provide colorful ways to consume local, nutrient dense foods on a student's plate in a unique and healthy way.

“I don’t know of any other schools in the U.S. that are doing something like this,” Goldsmith said.

Those who attended the meeting were able to sample pickled green beans, cabbage and peppers, as well as tomatoes. 

Goldsmith said they plan to have six different fermented options, as well raw vegetables and pita, to pair with six varieties of hummus. 

Sophomore Taylor Bentley, who works for GU’s Office of Sustainability, was one of the students in attendance at the meeting, and was interested in advocating for having more meat alternatives at the COG.

“Give the students the option to eat plant-based at stations other than Zagriculture,” Bentley told Thrasher and Lemke during the meeting.

Bentley, who is president of Sustainable Eats Club, said she hopes to bring her club members to the next meeting in order to provide more suggestions for the future of food on campus.

The next Student Culinary Council is the first week of March. Updates on scheduling will be posted on Zag Dining’s Instagram (@zagdining) and  Facebook pages.

Zoe Calambokidis is a contributor.

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