Marist Magazine: Fall 2014 - page 12

A Grand Place to Eat and Meet
T
he fall 2013 semester brought the
opening of a vastly renovated
Dining Hall that pleased the eye as
well as the palate and immediately became
a premier place to congregate.
“The new Dining Hall is wonderful
because it’s more of a restaurant and less
like a high school cafeteria,” said Leslie
Sullivan ’15.
“It’s very spacious,” said Rosalias Read
’17. “The way the stations are placed keeps
everything flowing and organized. There
is a great variety of food. You can mix and
match the food you want. There is definitely
something for everyone, whether you are
vegetarian or not.”
“People
want
to be here,” said Mohamad
Charafeddine, general manager of Marist’s
dining services for the past seven years.
The Dining Hall has a three-story
cathedral ceiling, covering what was an
underused exterior courtyard, ornamented
by three chandeliers weighing 2,200 pounds
each. And the improvements extend beyond
aesthetics. The hall seats 750, an increase of
250 over the old cafeteria. Servery areas have
been moved to the front of the house, where
students can observe and interact with chefs
as they prepare their selections. Offerings
made to order include sushi, international
dishes, pizza, pasta, deli sandwiches, grill
(chicken and burgers), entrees prepared in
a rotisserie oven, and freshly baked goods.
There are also vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-
free offerings. Beginning in fall 2014, all
chicken served is vegetable-fed and hormone/
antibiotic-free.Cooking to order means fresh
food and less waste, said Charafeddine.
Students and guests also enjoy an extensive
salad bar and a well-stocked beverage area.
Patrons have plenty of seating choices,
from the spacious central hall to the more
private tables on its perimeter, where conver-
sation is easily made thanks to soundproof
walls. A dedicated “quiet” dining area offers
views of the Hudson River, as does an adja-
cent terrace.
Diners with special needs have their own
food prep area called My Kitchen, a room
they can access via their Marist ID cards.
“Access by card ensures that students, based
on their own dietary experiences, under-
stand adherence to special diets and are less
likely to cross-contaminate food items,” said
Charafeddine. My Kitchen offers a convec-
tion oven, toasters, a microwave, and other
appliances for those with food allergies or
gluten sensitivity.
Less visible are the sustainability features
of the new facility. Composting, which used
to involve noisy trucks hauling leftovers off-
site, is now accomplished via a hyperacceler-
ated decomposition system that turns food
scraps into waste water within 24 hours.
A hydration station offering filtered water
allows students to fill their own reusable
water bottles, reducing usage of dispos-
able water bottles. Marist also sources food
locally and regionally as much as possible,
Charafeddine said.
Whether because of new food options
or the striking environment, more meals are
being served than ever. Charafeddine said
almost 3,650 meals, on average, are served
daily, compared to 3,100 prior to the renova-
tion. Students, faculty, and staff are using
their meal plans more frequently, he said.
It’s not uncommon for a student to come
in five or six times a day, he added; patrons
come in not only for a meal but for coffee or
dessert. The hall is open Monday through
Friday from 7:15 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday
and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Diners
can peruse menus online at
dining.com and can also keep up via
Facebook, Twitter, and the Valley Café blog.
Alumni, too, are welcome to eat in the
Dining Hall, Charafeddine noted. Visitors
may pay by cash or credit card.
Charafeddine has noticed increased
interaction among faculty, students, and staff
in the new Dining Hall. “It’s helping them
build a sense of community,” he says. “It’s
not just a place to eat but to get together.”
The Dining Terrace offers Hudson River views.
Almost 3,650 meals, on average, are served
daily in the new Dining Hall, compared to
3,100 daily prior to the renovation.
Executive Chef Anthony Legname (left) and
General Manager Mohamad Charafeddine
(right) welcomed Brendan McEntee ’67, the
president and CEO of Cook Natural Products,
for a tour of the new Dining Hall.
A room in the Dining Hall, overlooking the
Hudson River, is designated for quiet dining.
The sushi bar has been a popular addition to Marist
dining. Right: Pizza is still a mealtime staple.
ShaneO’Brien ’15
ShaneO’Brien ’15
Cover Story
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