Providence College’s updated and upgraded Raymond Dining Hall (Ray Dining for short) is meant for students to customize to their hearts’ content, according to Sodexo GM John LaBreche. At the heart is the UCOOK station, where students stand side-by-side (masked of course) over skillets. Conversation and burgeoning friendships happen here, along with the customization that this generation craves.
“We built a whole section of the dining hall—UCOOK—to change from us cooking for them, to doing it on their own,” LaBreche says. “They can find proteins, pastas, brown and white rice, veggies, cheese, sauces…if what they want isn’t there, they can ‘shop the dining hall’—go to the salad bar or go to the deli and add some slices of ham.”
The UCOOK station is supervised by staff for safety but fosters a nice sense of independence among the students who try it out. It’s also proven to be a great conversation starter for new students anxious to make friends and establish new routines for a new school year.
The station will also be used as a learning lab where Sodexo chefs can help students branch out into cooking more and more things for themselves. And for those more inclined to let someone else do the cooking, the other nine concepts at Ray Dining are chef-driven and ready to serve, customize and interact.