Getting ready: Christine Schwartz and Dining Services
For Bates Dining Services, summer’s a time for experimentation, with the results coming soon to a plate near you.
Dining Services director Christine Schwartz said that her chefs continue to increase culinary diversity as they revamp the menus, with Cajun and Cuban cuisines among those seeing more emphasis. But fear not, comfort food addicts: “Many old favorites — mashed potatoes, meatloaf, turkey — are still there,” even if the mac and cheese now comes in a newly spicy version.
Starting this fall, brunch replaces breakfast and lunch on Saturdays. “That’s consistent with what’s been happening industry-wide for a long time,” Schwartz said. With Saturday breakfasts drawing only about 200 diners, “it made more sense for sense for us to go to a brunch and dinner concept on Saturdays,” as has long been the case on Sundays.
Schwartz also checks in with local farms and vendors that provide food to Bates, such as Cold Spring Farm, a provider of grass-fed beef owned by two Bates alums. Sometimes there are surprises. “We just found out that a farm we’d contracted with to provide blueberries lost their crop in the rains from Tropical Storm Irene,” she says.
If the academic year is the turnpike for Schwartz and her team, this week is the on-ramp. Dining Services’ largest customer count during the summer, Schwartz said, was around 450, “and we’re about to amp that right up to 1,700.”
Her team will serve up 600 a day through Thursday, probably 900 on Friday, and by Sunday, as upperclassmen show up en masse, service will be close to the max at 1,500 to 1,600.
There are other ways to view the difference between summer and the academic year. “We might spend $15,000 or $20,000 a week on food in the summer — that would be on the high side,” Schwartz explained. Typically, there are two large deliveries a week.
“During the academic year, we’re getting three or four trucks a week and spending $50,000-plus.” Of a total staff of around 98, about a third take the midsummer weeks off, working Aug. 15 to June 15.