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Thursday, August 5,2010

CU unveiling new dining extravaganza

By Heather May Koski
University of Colorado students — and even members of the public — are in for a culinary treat this fall with the Aug. 17 opening of the new Center for Community building on campus.

Not only will the $84 million facility feature an abundance of student services, but students, employees and visitors will be able to enjoy a fresh fusion of community and cultural dining experiences.

Located in the southwest area of campus next to Regent Hall, the Center for Community (C4C) is easily accessible from Regent Drive for cars and bikes alike. No tuition revenue or state funds were used to pay for the building; it was funded through private donations and bonds issued by the housing and dining services department and parking services (it has an underground parking garage).

Unlike any other campus dining center, the Campus for Community facility will feature interactive cuisine stations in the form of eight micro-themed, culturally enriched restaurants. Director of Dining Services Amy Beckstrom says concepts of the dining center were developed after discussions with its primary customers, the students.

She says trend surveys indicate that cultural foods are a popular component of on-campus dining centers. “We knew in designing a dining center that focuses on foods from different cultures that our customers will not only be happy, but we also hope to teach them about the different cuisines from around the world,” Beckstrom says.

In addition to Italian Cibo, Latin Comida, Asian Shi Pin, Persian ghaz, Sushi, Smoke ’n’ Grill, Kosher and Black Coats cuisine stations, eaters can also choose from the Wholesome Field salad bar, a variety of fresh baked treats, CU on the Run — a grab-n-go venue for those who need something fast and fresh — and The Hub, a late-night dining station for those with a post-party appetite.

Beckstrom says the Latin, Asian and Italian stations have always been popular with students and were therefore an easy decision and addition to the Center for Community dining center.

“The venues that are new to our university dining offerings are Sushi and a Persian venue,” she says.

“These venues will offer foods that generally are never available in a university dining center, and we are excited to bring these new concepts to the Center for Community.”

Executive Chef Kerry Paterson says the Persian station will feature traditional kabobs of chicken, fish, beef, veggies and even lamb meatballs served on long skewers that resemble swords.

He adds that each station will feature regional variety. For example, the Asian station will not just feature Chinese food, but will include Korean and Thai foods, and the Latin station will not just offer Mexican food, but Caribbean items, in addition to a burrito bar with tortillas made on site. The Italian station is equipped with a stone pizza oven and will offer homemade pasta.

Paterson describes the Smoke ’n’ Grill as a combination of comfort foods and barbecue. In addition to macaroni and cheese, potatoes, hot dogs and hamburgers, this station will serve ribs and other barbecue items from an in-house smoker.

“My culinary staff is excited to get into this new building,” he says.

Beckstrom says every food station also will have items for the significant population of vegans and vegetarians at CU and in Boulder.

“We have a salad bar that provides over 60 linear feet of fresh fruits and vegetables, soup and sandwiches,” Beckstrom says. “This salad bar will provide organic and local produce as much as possible.” She says the salad bar will feature an area called “A9 Free,” which means it doesn’t have any of the nine major food allergens.

“We do this as a response to a growing student population that has food allergies,” she says.

One prominent addition to the campus dining scene is the Black Coats station, which will feature a display cooking platform showcasing the university’s culinary talent.

“Our students love the Food Network and love to watch our chefs prepare food in front of them,” Beckstrom says. “This station is where our award-winning chefs, as well as some guest chefs, will prepare some delicious cuisine, while engaging our students in cooking techniques or ways to prepare healthy foods.

“We wanted to create a ‘one-stopshop’ for students,” she adds. “They can come to this building and, for example, go get their Buff One Card, see someone in career services, stop by and see the vice chancellor for student affairs and then meet their friends downstairs for a cup of coffee. Up until now, they would have had to go to three different buildings to accomplish this.”

The Kittredge dining center will close with the launch of the Center for Community, which seats 900 diners.

“We have visited the campuses of the best university dining programs in the country and strived to discover what we can do to elevate our program to a new level,” Beckstrom says. “Over and over, our research revealed that customer preference, as well as the campus’s growing international community, provided us with the perfect platform to create a cultural dining experience with quality foods carefully prepared by highly trained chefs.”

Respond: cuisine@boulderweekly.com

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