By Colt Dodd
After nearly three months of construction, the interior Metz kitchen opened to the student body last week and was met with mostly positive feedback. Metz Culinary Management, the new food service provider that replaced the long running Sodexo earlier this semester, is hoping that with the reopening of the kitchen, they will be able to appease student demands. Sales from Metz reports that they serve about 450 customers at lunch and 250 customers at dinner, making it the largest food service on campus, next to Four Winds.
Metz manager William “Bill” Moore took the Catalyst on a tour of the interior kitchen, which has six new stations. Upon walking into the chic new interior, the first station is the Market Place Café, which serves fish, chicken, pork, and tofu with dishes cooked to order. The next station, Bravo, is what Moore calls “an active station” because students have the option of purchasing made to order dishes that include Asian stir-fry, pasta tosses and Mexican food. Villa Tuscano is the Italian station that will everyday serve one type of calzone or Stromboli and a few varieties of pizza.
“The next station is Main,” Moore said. “Now Main is only open for breakfast and lunch, we don’t open that one for dinner and that’s because that food’s prepared and now the students I think will really enjoy putting on their own plate the sides that they want. Then you move over to the Grill that has homemade burgers – we have a burger that we’re calling the NC Honors burger and what we do is we get the fresh ground chuck in, we season it, just dedicated to this school. Chef came up with this recipe and I think on our comment board, there’s three or four comments that are like, ‘Don’t change anything with the hamburgers, we love it.’”
Moore remarked that there are black bean and grilled chicken options for the burgers, but after being not impressed with the fried chicken patties, is looking to have a breaded chicken substitute. He also remarked that the buns, previously too much bread and not enough meat, will soon be replaced by challah bread rolls.
“We also have the Green Scene,” Moore continued. “When we had the salad bar out there, we didn’t see a lot of movement on it. Now that it’s back here, I’m really glad to see students utilizing that station. They’re eating the fresh fruit, the grain salads, they also have the field greens and the spinach. There are also two soups. We’ll always have chicken noodle everyday because that’s what the students really like and we’ll have a vegan soup every day. Also in that station is the toppings bar, so you can top your burger with cheese, tomato, onions, and pickles.”
While Moore noted that mealtimes have been running more efficiently since the opening of the interior, he noted that there are still some improvements to be made. For instance, the long lines that often back up past the soda fountain will soon be addressed with the installation of a second cash register that is waiting to be hooked up by IT. The televisions that currently have a Windows display screen will soon be used as menu boards to show students what the specials are and what will be available.
As for the Boar’s Head sub shop, a Turbo Chef oven will soon be in place to toast subs and make pizzas for late night. The Panini press will also hopefully be up and running after Thanksgiving break so students can enjoy homemade grill cheeses.
Metz is also looking into other alternatives to soy based products for vegans and vegetarians.
“We’re trying to do more things for the vegan population,” Moore said. “We’ve introduced freekah. It’s a vegetable protein a lot different than the TVP, it’s a softer grain almost, and we’ve used it in stuffing baked potatoes, using it in sloppy joes, so we’re trying to institute some of that so we’re not serving the vegan population tofu every day. Starting on Fridays, we’re also going to have Fresh Market day probably from 2 to 3 when it slows down and we’re going to have for the apartment people fresh broccoli, fresh produce, all kinds of berries and fresh cantaloupe they can buy and take back to their rooms to cook.”
Student feedback has ranged from mixed to positive.
“I have to admit, I’m a little confused about the design choices in there,” thesis student and Robert Ward said. “The fact is it looks like early 70s chic which leads to the question: ‘Did they actually looked at the old pictures of Ham Center with the actual orange couches from the 70s?’ I don’t think they got those pictures. I think they just designed it like early 70s chic/apple store, either that or they started out Apple store and then were like, ‘You know what, that’s too expensive, let’s do early 70s chic instead.’”
“[The food is] a little unhealthy but you know, overall, that’s what normal cafeteria food is, so it’s pretty solid,” Ward added. “I really like Tuesday when they have duck l’orange day.”
Second-year Alyssa Motylinski said that she regrets running out of Ham points earlier this year.
“It’s fancy as fuck,” Motylinski said. “It’s a lot better, I would say the color scheme is good. There’s a lot of options and they all look really good, but I ran out of Ham points last week, so unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to partake. I did mooch a pizza off a friend and it was very good so I’m excited to be able to buy my own.”
Moore had one thing that he especially wanted to stress to students concerning reusable utensils and plates.
“One thing that I want to get out to the students is that we have real plates and the silverware,” Moore said. “We’re trying to be very earth-friendly. We need the students to put the silverware back where it belongs after they’re done with it. What will happen is we’ll go to Styrofoam and that’s not good for the earth. We want to keep this program going so we can still be earth-friendly.”
Metz welcomes student feedback about the new changes and improvements. Physical Plant was not available for comment regarding the cost of the renovations.