From acai bowls to brick-oven pizzas to made-to-order mac and cheese, Sodexo, the College’s new hospitality services provider, showed off its new menu and its new dining hall renovations at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held during the first day of classes on August 30.
Sodexo began as the College’s new food service provider in January 2021, and this summer the company paid to renovate the College’s dining hall. The new, bright space includes gleaming subway tile and stations dedicated to allergen-free foods, vegan diets, and made-to-order grill items. An ice cream station, which will serve gourmet ice cream made in house, becomes a smoothie station in the mornings and a milkshake station for specialty nights. Another area can host guest chefs, including professors and local notables.
Students are also encouraged to connect with Donna Duffy, the nutritionist assigned to Saint Rose, to discuss any dietary concerns.
“Food is such an important part of our daily lives. It bonds us, and it gives us the necessary fuel to learn and grow,” said Saint Rose President Marcia White. “We want students to feel at home at Saint Rose, and Sodexo has shown a commitment to student-centered hospitality. We’re so happy to have them as a partner.”
Students and employees have the option of eating in the dining room or taking a reusable to-go box and filling it up at the stations. The boxes are then brought back to the dining hall where they will be cleaned and sanitized for reuse.
“The students and guests have really enjoyed the new atmosphere and menu options at the renovated main dining room,” said Lori Holmes, general manager for Sodexo’s hospitality service program at Saint Rose. “There has been a significant trend in the number of students who are upgrading their meal plan option to the premium unlimited plan from a lesser plan – a virtually unheard-of phenomenon in campus dining. When asked why, the students attribute the choice to all the great options, increased variety, and how good the food has become. Faculty and staff have also responded favorably and are now looking into purchasing staff meal plans as well.”
The event also served as an introduction to the new chef for Saint Rose. Executive Chef Peter Pryor Jr. comes to Saint Rose from Los Angeles, where he worked as an executive chef for Loyola Marymount University. He is a former restaurant chef who has worked at Tavern on the Green and the New England Culinary Institute, and whose restaurants in Montreal and Washington, D.C., were named by Condé Nast Traveler as top new restaurants in the world.
Soon, Chef Pryor will be working on adapting a family recipe for Jollof brought to him by a student from Nigeria. The student will have the opportunity to taste the rice dish to ensure the flavors are authentic. Once the recipe is set, it will be served in the dining hall and the student will be invited to talk about his favorite dish.
“A truly great campus dining program is multi-faceted and in a constant state of evolving,” Holmes said. “The extraordinary ones take it a step further by fully embracing what it means to be part of the campus and become a pillar of the student experience. To do that dining must become a student-driven process. At Saint Rose, the students have and will continue to help design the menus, concepts, special events, and programmatic aspects of dining via daily table talks, emails, social media, dining committees, etc.”
The dining hall will get one more special touch later this semester – a plaque that honors beloved longtime dining hall employee Annie Sheeley, who passed away earlier this year. As requested by students, the tribute will include a photo of Sheeley with the words “Be fabulous like Annie.”