From curry and naan to a new pastry chef and desserts, the Heilman Dining Center -- known as D-Hall -- has many new food choices this fall semester.
To meet the students' demand for new ethnic foods, an Indian bar opened the first day of classes. Jerry Clemmer, director of residential dining, said students at the University of Richmond are well-traveled and open-minded about food, so it allows him to "be authentic" while creating the menu.
The chefs at D-Hall use their experience, knowledge from summer conferences and research of ethnic foods to create recipes for the semester's menu.
"We don't put anything on the menu without a recipe," Clemmer said. The chefs also test the recipes multiple times to make sure they are perfect.
One recipe that the chefs are waiting to test is for naan, an Indian-style flatbread. The naan used now in D-Hall is store-bought. Executive Chef Glenn Pruden said they were finding the right tools to make the bread themselves, because it would lower overall costs.
Regardless of whether the naan is store-bought or homemade, the Indian bar has been a huge success, Clemmer said. The most popular item is the curry. Students put the curries on pastas and pizza for added taste, he said.
"The Indian food is great," senior Zhivko Illeieff said. "I didn't see it coming ... it was a surprise."
Illeieff's favorite food to get at D-Hall is the feta cheese in the salad bar. He said he would like to see a Mediterranean bar soon with Bulgarian and Greek foods.
Sophomore Shannon Mann said she agreed that a Mediterranean bar would be a good change.
Mann also misses the Mexican bar that D-Hall had last semester, but Clemmer said that D-hall menu items rarely go away. He said the chefs were working Mexican food into the menu.
One way students can express their interest in new dining options is to fill out a UR Heard comment card. Clemmer said students do this often, which is why cereal options change so frequently.
New desserts will also appear on the menu this semester because a new pastry chef, Wendy Boberek, was just hired. Boberek worked as a pastry chef for Maggiano's Little Italy and at upscale restaurants on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Clemmer said.
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Boberek plans to launch 56 new desserts, and every meal will have at least one chocolate-based dessert. Her desserts will be made with "love and care," Pruden said.
"I am looking forward to the baklava cheesecake," Clemmer said.
Freshman Tyler Barbarin loves that there's always a chocolate dessert.
"I think that having a chocolate option always makes things better," Barbarin said.
Another change in dining options this year is the added Dining Dollars on students' meal plans. Now, students on average get $650 and 17 meals a week. According to Bettie Clarke, the executive director of campus dining, students can also add more Dining Dollars onto accounts at One Card Services.
"There have been no complaints. Students are satisfied [with the change in meal plans]," Clarke said. "I think it's a good plan and if they give it a chance, they will like it."
Besides all the positive remarks that D-Hall has received from students, it has also won national awards. The National Association of College and University Food Services declared the Heilman Dining Center the "Grand Prize Winner" for Residence Hall Dining in 2010 for a "single stand-alone concept," according to the award plaque.
"This shows our commitment to our students," Pruden said.
Among all the changes at D-Hall, it will continue to cater to the students and improve along the way.
"We still challenge ourselves ... it can always get better," Clemmer said.
Contact reporter Valerie Jama at email@example.com
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