BBC to cater more to vegans and vegetarians

Richard Hurst and Gabriela Alfonso in front of Burger 305 at the Biscayne Bay food court.

Gabriella Pinos/Assistant Entertainment Director

In the next two years, the Biscayne Bay campus food court will be getting a face-lift, thanks to FIU’s new food vendor Chartwells.

The remodel will occur between Fall 2019 and Fall 2020 with Chartwells and will update the space in the Academic I food court. Richard Hurst, system executive chef of Chartwells, said the change will provide better food options and resources to students.

“There’s going to be more involvement, more variety and more excitement,” said Hurst.

The remodel will replace Moe’s and Subway with Chartwells’ own establishments, including better grills and equipment for the new restaurants. Getting the policies and procedures in place will take time, as well as training the 400 employees at FIU who are involved in the remodel, according to Hurst.

While none of them have been confirmed, ideas for BBC food options include a deli station, a full salad bar and a station where salads are tossed in front of students. Along with a Chick-Fil-A food truck, another food truck with either a rotating menu or a specific food concept is in the works.

“It’s not just Subway every day, it’s not just Moe’s every day. We’re going to be offering a lot of cool stuff and once we get all that, then from there, the sky is the limit,” said Hurst.

The new changes will also cater more toward vegan and vegetarian students. Beefsteak, a food truck that places an emphasis on vegetables, is one establishment that will be exclusive to FIU. Created by internationally-recognized chef José Andrés, the food truck chain has locations in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Ohio and Maryland. Although no schedule has been set yet, the truck will alternate between Modesto Maidique and BBC, according to Hurst.

“It’s really cool because it’s going to be a well-recognized, well-done concept, and it’s vegetarian,” said Hurst.

Other vegan-friendly resources in the pipeline include an online guide for vegan and vegetarian options. Gabriela Alfonso, the higher education registered dietitian for Chartwells, is creating the guide which will be available upon request or on the FIU Dine on Campus website.

Through her position, Alfonso wants to educate all students with specific diets on the nutritional value of food.

“I have seen all kinds of patients with all kinds of dietary restrictions and needs, so students that are in that boat can definitely reach out, call me, email me,” said Alfonso. “I’ll be more than happy to sit down and not just give them a little food tour and teach them how to serve for what their needs are, but just questions in general.”

Alfonso and Hurst both provide educational material and programs for students at MMC. Hurst currently organizes “Superfood of the Month,” where students are educated on the benefits of a specific ingredient, and other free events. Teaching Kitchen, a demonstration where students can cook alongside him and take home whatever they prepare, is one such program that will be held next month at MMC.

There are no immediate plans to move these events to BBC, but they will eventually arrive at the campus with the remodel, according to Hurst. Plans for future programs include presentations on the chemistry of food and Teaching Kitchen. Feedback counters like those in MMC’s dining hall, 8th Street Campus Kitchen, will also be available at the entrances of the BBC food court with the remodel, allowing for anonymous feedback from students.

For now, Alfonso and Hurst encourage students to contact Chartwells staff on campus or through email. BBC students can speak with Isidro Ramirez, the senior director of Chartwells, by asking the cashier of any restaurant. Providing feedback on current food options and establishments, according to them, will be the best metric in accommodating student demand.

“My goal is to 100 percent satisfy,” said Hurst. “Realistically, it’s hard to please everybody, but [it’s] our goal as a company. We still want to do it.”

To read more about Chartwells and FIU dining, visit https://dineoncampus.com/fiu or @fiu_foodlife on Instagram. To contact Chartwells staff, email Richard Hurst at richard.hurst@compass-usa.com or Gabriela Alfonso at gabriela.alfonso@compass-usa.com.

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