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The Tasting Table is set up every two weeks in the Lebanon Valley College dining hall, offering a different plant-forward dish each time for students to try and comment on.

Metz Culinary Management at Lebanon Valley College partners with E.A.T. Undergraduate Research Group and Menus of Change University Research Collaborative to build sustainable, menus

Tasting Tables offer students at Lebanon Valley College samples of globally inspired dishes developed by Metz Culinary Management in partnership with The Culinary Institute of America. Plus, get recipes.

Metz Culinary Management at Lebanon Valley College (LVC) is partnering with the E.A.T. Undergraduate Research Group and its director, Dr. Robert Valgenti, who is a member of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC), to build sustainable, health-conscious menus with global flavor. The collaborating organizations coordinate Tasting Tables and offer students samples of globally inspired dishes such as Thai curry Buddha bowl, roasted cauliflower garam masala, vegetable tofu fried rice with sweet Thai chili, quinoa stuffed peppers and beet poke bowl (recipe below)

After students try the samples, they provide feedback on subjects such as how much they enjoyed the dish and their views and knowledge on sustainable food, which is then used to influence menu changes.

“The primary objective is to provide an educational experience with food for students and to enhance their food literacy around topics as varied as nutrition, sustainability, global cuisine, ingredients and even cooking preparation,” explains Bill Allman, general manager for Metz at LVC.

Angel_Romero_Quinoa_Stuffed_Peppers.jpgPhoto: Metz associate Angel Romero prepares quinoa stuffed peppers, one of the Tasting Table dishes served to students over the past year.

Metz supported the first tasting table during the fall 2018 semester, when chefs prepared and served three unique dishes that utilized sustainably sourced chicken. Student feedback was then used not only to benefit the Metz operation at LVC but also was shared and compared with over 500 results from five other institutions (Stanford University, Notre Dame University, UC-Santa Barbara, Oregon State and Northeastern University) that also ran the same experiment.

Last fall, Metz participated in four tasting tables, each focusing on one globally inspired dish that features a plant-forward dining concept. The recipes are distributed by MCURC for consistency across all participating campuses and were prepared at LVC by Chef Jordan Crews.

The first took place on Sept. 5 and featured a roasted cauliflower garam masala for which 91 students provided feedback. Notably, while 86% said they had no idea what garam masala was, 56% rated it either a 4 or a 5 on a 5-point scale.

The second tasting table, on Sept. 18, featured lentil soup with a mango raita (recipe below), which got reviews from 80 students with 61% rating it a 4 or 5. 

“Both dishes highlight the MCURC’s focus on the Menus of Change principles of healthy and sustainable menus [that] include leading with menu messaging around flavor, celebrating cultural diversity and discovery, thinking produce first, [having] a focus on whole, minimally processed foods and serving less red meat less often,” Allman observes.

“The unique collaboration between Lebanon Valley College’s E.A.T. Undergraduate Research Group and the MCURC supports Metz’s menu focus with increased efforts to provide students sustainable choices and a globally inspired culinary experience,” he adds.

The plan is for Crews to set out a Tasting Table of a different dish every two weeks to introduce more flavors into the dining hall and develop student palates, Allman observes. “We’re really trying to grow on plant-forward because we have to make a difference with the students.”

Currently, Metz provides vegan and vegetarian options at each station in the LVC dining hall, including at the Grill, Entrée, Bravo, Deli and Pizza and Pasta stations. Highly rated menu options from the four tasting tables will become a part of the Metz menu mix in the future.

Lentil_Soup_with_Mango_Raita_Photo.jpgPhoto: Lentil soup with mango raita was the second tasting table selection last fall, on Sept. 18, with 80 students trying it and 61% of them rating it a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale.

Lentil soup with mango raita

Yield: 25 3-oz. servings

For soup:

2 lbs. red lentils, rinsed

½ lb. onions, chopped

8 bay leaves

1 oz. ground cumin

½ oz. ground turmeric

½ oz. ground coriander

3 qts. vegetable stock

For raita:

1 pint vegan soy sour cream

½ lb. chopped cucumber

4 oz. chopped fresh mango

1 oz. chopped cilantro

1. Combine lentils, onions, bay leaves, spices and stock in a large pot. Bring to boil then lower heat. Simmer about 40 minutes until lentils are tender.

2. Remove bay leaves then puree in blender.

3. Return to pot then simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Add more stock if texture is too thick.

5. Combine all ingredients for raita in bowl and mix.

6. Refrigerate raita for at least 30 minutes before using.

7. Top hot soup with raita and serve.

Source: Menus of Change University Research Collaborative


Students try a beet poke bowl dish at one of the tasting table events this past year.

Candy striped beet poke bowl

12 servings

For bowl:

2 Tbsps. hijiki seaweed, dried

3 cups quinoa

1 lb. candy striped beets, 1-inch dice

1 lb. peeled sweet potato or yam

½ lb. shiitake mushrooms, 1-inch dice

1 bunch radish, trimmed and grated

¾ lb. edamame, shelled (frozen & thawed) ¼-inch slice

5 avocadoes, peeled and cubed, 1-inch dice

1 bunch scallions, cut into small batons

1 lb. baby spinach

For dressing:

3 Tbsps. soy sauce

3 Tbsps. sugar

3 Tbsps. white miso paste

3 Tbsps. rice vinegar

3 Tbsps. toasted sesame oil

1 Tbsp. ginger, finely grated

1 Tbsp. garlic, finely grated (1 small clove)

3 Tbsps. toasted black sesame seeds

4 Tbsps. sambal oelek chili paste

1. Soak hijiki in hot water for 30 minutes or cold water overnight.

2. Cook quinoa by adding equal amount of water, bring to boil for 10-15 minutes until tender, cool.

3. Steam (or boil) beets until tender, approx. 20 minutes, cool.

4. Toss sweet potatoes with oil, salt & pepper and roast in oven at 350°F for 12 minutes until they are golden brown and just cooked through, cool.

5. Toss shiitake mushroom with sesame oil and salt. Roast in oven for 15 minutes at 350°F until golden brown & lightly crisp, cool.

6. Run radish through food processor on grater attachment.

7. Defrost and rinse edamame.

8. Combine all dressing ingredients, then puree in blender until smooth.

9. Combine quinoa, beets, sweet potato, edamame, jicama, radish, half the hijiki, half the scallions, shiitake mushroom and radish. Mix well and toss with baby spinach. Add dressing, mix well. Add 3/4 of the avocado and mix gently.

10. Garnish with remaining hijiki and avocado and sesame seeds.

Alternate serving suggestion: Keep ingredients separate and compose bowl with spinach on bottom, mound of quinoa on top and other individual ingredients arrayed around top of bowl.

Source: Menus of Change University Research Collaborative

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