This fall semester has brought new and improved changes to both the EC and Commons. These changes are all part of the dining staff’s goal to show students that, as general manager Nicole McKoy says, “Dining can be fun.”
The team behind these changes consists of a variety of helpful and thoughtful people working towards improving the dining experience at Drew. This team includes Valeria Puerta, the food service manager, who oversees the daily operations of dining, Carlos Navaro, the executive chef for all dining operations on campus and Nicole McKoy, the general manager who oversees all of Drew dining.
There are also three new members of the staff as of this semester. Lia Pelaez, the executive chef-manager, oversees the retail options on campus, such as the EC, C-Store and Peet’s. Chrystia Woroch, the catering director, handles food at events around campus.
In their efforts to bring fun to dining, the team is implementing changes in food selection, events and the general organization dining locations on campus. McKoy and Puerta said these changes have been made to transform the dining locations into places where students “want to hang out.”
In the Commons, evening events are already happening on a weekly basis. On Wednesdays, there are baker’s events, where students can get hands-on interaction with the bakers. Activities during previous baker’s events included decorating cookies and cupcakes as well as making chocolate-covered strawberries. On Thursdays, the commons hosts trivia nights to put students’ knowledge to the test for a chance to win some prizes. Trivia nights were held on Thursdays in the Commons, to put students’ knowledge to the test in an attempt to win a prize. Thursday nights in the commons also include mocktails for Happy Hour.On Sundays, students will see a rotation of food from local restaurants featured in the Commons. McKoy also noted that now that more sports are in season, the staff wants to start showing games on the large TV in the Commons.
The dining team is also making changes to the menus at both the Commons and EC to meet students’ needs and increase variety. The Commons added smoothies to the breakfast menu as another healthy option and moved the rotisserie oven to the True Balance station to give students with allergies and other dietary restrictions more protein options. Students may have also noticed the farm shelf at the entrance of the dining hall. Fresh ingredients from this shelf have already been incorporated into meals.
Puerta also highlighted that there is now a station in the EC that includes a weekly rotation of cuisines. The station has featured dishes from various cultures, and this week it houses tossed and chopped salad.
Next week, students can look forward to brunch. Puerta also said that all “grab and go” food found in the EC and Peet’s is now made in-house in an attempt to eliminate outsourcing
Both Puerta and McKoy want students at Drew to know that they are dedicated to our dining needs and take requests seriously. If you have any questions, concerns or comments, you can consult the dining staff information that is available at the front table in the Commons. McKoy also noted that students should feel free to speak with the managers whenever they need or want to.