Thursday, January 20, - 3B
68 Thursday, January 20, 2011 // The B-Side
... cv a th
Cafeteria creativity at the'U
Meet the culinary
experts behind the
chicken broccoli bake
By LEAH BURGIN
When Natalie Emcard swipes into
a campus dining hall, she may not
consider herself a customer. But for
the chefs who toil in hot kitchens
Rehind the scenes, students are cus-
tomers. And each chef uses his or her
creativity and culinary arts training
to satisfy the thousands of patrons
daily who bustle through the serving
lines and salad bars in the Universi-
ty's nine residential chow houses.
But students who may be pictur-
ing dramatic scenes from "Top Chef"
£nd "Iron Chef" will find that Univer-
sity kitchens don't exhibit the same
panache,wittybanter or frantic atmo-
sphere prevalent in such TV shows.
North Quad Chef Frank Turchan -
a Culinary Institute of America grad
who, like many of the chefs employed
at the University, has worked in a
number of high-profile restaurants,
country clubs and hotels - said he
misses the artistry of high-pressure
kitchens similar to those featured on
the small screen.
"If you watch a dinner service at
any of the fine restaurants, it's almost
like a dance," he said. "No one talks,
they call out orders, there's just this
flow. It's amazing how food goes out.
"I could see down the line and it's
like an orchestra," he added, refer-
ring to his time at the dinner theater
Opus One in Detroit. "You can coor-
dinate who's doing what. You got the
saute station and the grill and the
roaster and the broiler and it's all
When East Quad Chef Buzz Cum-
mings, a 20-year veteran of Residen-
tial Dining Services, discussed his
decision to work for the University,
he remembered being uncertain if
cooking at a "college cafeteria" would
merit the same creativity as other
jobs in "the business."
His concern was not without foun-
dation. According to Cummings, for
14 years, the policy of University
dining was to mimic a "McDonald's
"If you go to Bursley to eat lasagna,
you should go to East Quad and West
Quad and South Quad and eat lasa-
gna and it should be the exactly the
same," Cummings explained. "Just
like McDonald's. If you go and get a
cheeseburger and fries and a milk-
shake here, you should be able to go
to Japan and get the same thing."
Four years ago, a new director was
hired who, according to Cummings,
had a different philosophy - creat-
ing a niche identity for each dining
hall on campus to increase selections
for the students and options for the
individual chefs. Students can now
see the result of this change - West
Quad boasts a burrito and Mediterra-
nean bar, the Hill Dining Center rolls
sushi and North Quad specializes in
But University chefs aren't given
complete free creative rein. Dining
Services executive chef Steve Mey-
ers, who has worked at the Universi-
ty since 1986, emphasized that, while
students may have a different dining
experience depending on where they
eat, the University still stresses stan-
dardization for dining hall basics
and favorites, like the chicken broc-
Chefs are also expected to con-
coct meals based on other Univer-
sity guidelines, including vegan and
vegetarian options, nutritional con-
siderations and student allergies.
And, unlike cooks at private restau-
rants, RDS chefs must, as Turchan
described, "feed a small city" - up
to 5,000 students per dining hall -
Each week, one Ann Arbor staple menu item becomes a battlefield
as Daily Arts editors butt heads over which restaurant makes
it best. Where should you go for your burger, fro-yo or garden
omlette? Daily Arts will fight for the truth.
SWEET POTATO FRIES
Dear Ricky Gervais,
Go brush your teeth, you fat git.
Sincerely, Johnny Depp
Dear Five Guys,
Soon, there will only be four.
Sincerely, Shaman Drum
Dog, this new lady I'm working with is nuts! And so is J. Lo.
North Quad Chef Frank Turchan used to work at Opus One in Detroit.
012 E. William (734) 663-3379
Students, Faculty, & Staff
$2 OFF our Lunch Buffet
With Beverage Included
Just Present Your U of M -8D.
Ofe xie:2/1 8/2011
Despite all the factors that must
be considered when writing up each
recipe and menu, Meyers believes
that chefs have the creativeblicense
to dabble freely in their chosen craft.
"I think the opportunity was
always there," Meyers said. "From
the day I started here, one of the
discussion points was, 'We want the
food to be more exciting.' Even back
in 1986, we wanted the food to be cre-
ated as nice as possible and presented
as nice as possible."
Cummings and Turchan agree
with this statement, citing examples
like recipe concoction, chef specials,
themed dining weeks, local vegetable
purchasing and special University
occasions as opportunities for them
to stretch their culinary muscles and
take a stab at a new and exciting dish.
Turchan, who has created about
40 new recipes this academic year,
believes that culinary creativity can
be found in the many options a simple
See CHEF, Page 8B
800 South State St.
The sweet potato fries at Quickie Burger
are the best you're likely to find. They cost
more than most are willing to pay for a pota-
to product whose purpose is to supplement
the taste of a cheeseburger, but after all, they
aren't just normal potato fries; they're sweet
potato fries. If you're willing to spend $6.50
on a burger, you should splurge and spend
the extra $3.50 on these fries. The only thing
you'll regret is how quickly you ate them all.
314 East Liberty St.
While not marketed as "sweet potato" per
se, Seva's yam fries are the vegetarian haven's
most popular menu item, and for good rea-
son. Each delectable morsel bursts with soft,
sugary goodness under its crunchy and salty
exterior. But the real highlight of the appe-
tizer is the dipping sauce that accompanies
it: Made from a combination of mayonnaise
and locally stewed Clancy's Fancy Hot Sauce,
it makes double dipping a must.
214 South State St.
Sava's has been gradually classing it up
since its leap across the street. But while
many things may have changed, the sweet
potato fries have stayed true to their old
deliciousness. The portion is generous and
the fries are warm and soft. The wide, thin
strands of sweet potato are perfect for dip-
ping, the only flaw beingsome are cut so thin
that they end up more fry batter than sweet
120 West Washington St.
At Grizzly Peak, the sweet potato fries are
just as they should be: hearty, sweet and per-
fectly crispy. They are less fries than thick-
cut wedges, which provide the full flavor
and texture of the common sweet potato.
The brewery fries the orange starches light-
ly, so as not to detract from their delicate
sweetness. There is enough taste present to
warrant condiments useless. Fans of sweet
potatoes and fried fare need look no further.
" Restaurant Week: A list of all establishments featuring can't-resist deals for
hungry students on a tight budget.
Film for thought: Do movie directors have a responsibility to the world they
represent? A look at experimental film "The Five Obstructions."
* Curtians up: Spend a weekend in the Windy city and see a phenomenal play:
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
And the winner is: Seva and Grizzly Peak tie
North Quad features food from around the world in addition to the 'U' dining hall staples