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Stories from the front lines: Central Washington University campus executive chef opens wellness-focused concept in midst of pandemic

CWU’s Fresh Bar is forging ahead with wellness-focused menu items, fresh-squeezed juice, local produce and room to grow.

Kick off a new dining concept on campus? Now? It actually makes a lot of sense at Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg, Wash. And Campus Executive Chef Joe Ritchie walks Food Management through why it’s been a great idea.

Joe_Ritchie_campus_exec_chef_Central_Washington_University.jpgPhoto: CWU Campus Executive Chef Joe Ritchie has used this pandemic time as a launch pad for a new concept, Fresh Bar, and as a chance to foster connections with local farmers and ranchers.

The food service operation at CWU is still chugging along, serving more than 500 students and staff still on campus. This scaled-down situation has come with a few silver linings, among them a chance to experiment with new menu items and also an opportunity to forge ahead with a concept that was planned for the spring before the pandemic would cancel so many plans.

Fresh Bar is just as it sounds: Focused on the fresh elements of locally grown produce turned into functional fresh-squeezed juices and healthy bowls and salads. Ritchie talks about the fact that there are also chicken tenders and other classic comfort foods involved. It’s all about balance!

Here’s his story.

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