The kitchen creativity in his neck of the woods has gotten stronger as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Jay Vetter, executive chef with Harvest Table Culinary Group at Elon University in North Carolina. With dramatically less students and staff on campus, the dining crew at Elon has turned a tumultuous time into an opportunity to reflect, renew and revamp the menu. The results are shelter-in-place menu items that travel the globe in terms of inspiration.
Vetter has been experimenting with dim sum, “bougie” PBJs, hempeh (like tempeh, but made with hemp) and more during this downtime. He’s been focused on local produce and salads, especially during the summer as he looks ahead to fall.
“Obviously, self-serve salads are gone, but we’re going to create really well-constructed salads, and also prepare for students who want just lettuce and ranch dressing,” Vetter says, alluding to the shift from customizable everything to chef-composed with a bit of leeway.
The plan at Elon for dining halls when students return is restaurant-style concepts, rather than action stations, and students will be able to get a complete meal in one place.
The new menu items will be ready, regardless of what the next semester will look like.
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