MARQUETTE — With students off campus for Christmas vacation, the Northern Michigan University Dining staff took a couple days this week to learn about ways to incorporate more plant-based foods into the campus menu.
NMU’s entire culinary team came together December 17 and 18 for the Forward Food Culinary Experience through the Humane Society of the United States. The Humane Society conducts this program at universities, hospitals, and other organizations across the nation, training culinary professionals how to prepare plant-based recipes.
NMU Dining Services Marketing Manager Marina Dupler says that students have been wanting to see more plant-based options available on campus, so this training is a great way for the university to meet that demand.
“We’re really hearing about this from our guests, and we rely on student feedback a lot,” said Dupler. “So what they want to see on the menu and their likes and dislikes, we’re incorporating that feedback every day and making adjustments as needed. So we know that plant-based food and recipes are good for the planet and good for your pocketbook, and we’re hearing that demand from our guests. And I think what the Dining team is really learning through this experience is how fun it can be and how great it can taste.”
The creative and innovative recipes made up a large spread that the NMU Dining staff got to enjoy after they prepared it. Humane Society Chef Amy Webster says that incorporating plant-based foods into menus can open people up to new ways of cooking, baking, and eating that they may never have considered before.
“I think a lot of people are doubtful about how good things like tofu and lentils will taste,” said Webster. “But what this training does, along with serving students delicious food, is open their minds. It does kind of change anyone who tries it. Especially for the students, because this will hopefully lead to some menu changes and maybe even change some minds about how people eat regularly.”
NMU Dining Services staff prepared more than 100 recipes during the Forward Food Culinary Experience. They hope to begin incorporating some of those recipes into the regular campus menu as soon as possible.