Asian specialties from a Japanese teppanyaki grill, housemade gelato, pizza from a wood-fired oven and barbecue from an authentic smoker are among the selections now available to California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U) students at the Gold Rush Dining Hall.
The residential dining facility opened at the beginning of the current school year as part of the completely renovated Natali Student Center, the central hub for students on the western Pennsylvania campus, that got a $30 million overhaul that produced an open and free-flowing space with plenty of natural light, and a sweeping grand stairway and rotunda surrounded by a common space with soft seating and flat screen monitors.
Gold Rush came about as part of an expanded partnership between Cal U and foodservice contractor AVI Foodsystems Inc. and serves the university’s goals of creating an interactive dining experience with meal selections prepared in the front of the house. An open concept layout offers a kitchen-forward design, inviting students to engage with chefs as they create from-scratch menu offerings.
The array of contemporary venues and cooking equipment deployed by AVI to create authentic cuisine from around the globe includes stations like Umami, where chefs chop and blend fresh ingredients as they prepare Asian specialties on a teppanyaki grill and a tandoor oven. In addition, handmade pizzas topped with freshly prepared sauce are baked in the wood-fired oven at Trattoria and an authentic smoker is the centerpiece of Americana, where classic Southern barbecue and other home-style dishes are prepared.
Fresh Market advances the traditional salad bar into a venue serving farm fresh, seasonal produce prepared in front of customers, along with an extensive array of grains and composed salads, and NY Deli menus house-roasted meats and freshly baked artisan breads combined to each customer’s specifications. To top things off there is smooth housemade gelato.
The student center makeover also features new or expanded retail venues. They include V-Bar with its gastropub menu offering a rotating selection of international fare such as yakatori, bento-style specialties, Greek gyros and gourmet American burgers; Fyre with its large grills for an expanded variety of grilled selections; and a doubled-in-size Flatz that can now offer an increased array of flatbread specialties, plus quesadillas prepared with freshly made tortillas. Culinary diversity is enhanced with sushi specialties that are now available at Vulcan Express, a c-store concept that was relocated to a larger space.
Retail orders are made easier with new technology such as ordering kiosks and mobile ordering capabilities, which enable customers to receive confirmation on their phones when their orders are ready.
On-site composting and partnerships with local farms for beef, produce and eggs ensure sustainability throughout the program.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]