A Treat for the Taste Buds
By LAUREN JURGENSEN
Seacobeck’s visit from gourmet Colombian chef Joaquin Suarez last week may be the last time the cafeteria sees an international chef of such caliber for several years to come.
Only four or five chefs are brought into the country each year by food management company Sodexho’s Global Chef Program, which introduces the cooking styles of executive chefs from worldwide Sodexho affiliates to American campuses.
This means that there are only a few guest chefs available to visit the more than 800 Sodexho-run campus cafeterias in the United States.
A visit from these chefs is the golden opportunity for students to enjoy atypical cuisine and to enjoy a break from standard campus fare.
Chef Suarez served up unusual entrees for students at the South Market dining room, including chicken in passion fruit marinade, potato stuffed tomatoes, yucca chips and tropical rice pudding.
Chef Suarez is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has worked at prestigious restaurants and hotels throughout his native Bogota and in New York City. He is currently the National Culinary Trainer for Sodexho South America and the Executive Chef of the Global Chef Program.
Chef Suarez was the last foreign chef to visit UMW’s dining hall for what may be awhile, according to Seacobeck officials.
“[The media coordinators of the Global Chef Program] were able to tell me that there will not be another Global Chef visit to UMW in this round of visits,” said Rose Benedict of UMW Dining Services.
However, Benedict also said that there is always a possibility for more of the Global Chefs to pass through the University of Mary Washington in the next few years because of the school’s proximity to other Sodexho cafeterias in and around the Washington, D.C. area.
Students able to make it to the one-day lunchtime treat seemed pleased with the quality of food that was prepared.
“The chef was really friendly, which made it a nice experience,” said Miriam Cross, a freshman. “Seaco should do this more often.”
Cross’s friend, freshman Kelley Hudak, added that she thought the chicken with passion fruit and the ajiaco santafereno (three potato, chicken and corn soup) were particularly delicious.
But Benjamin Vigeant, a senior, was not entirely convinced.
“It’s just another one of those pleasant surprises that they have occasionally,” Vigeant said about the foreign food. “It doesn’t change my opinion of Seaco.”
More of those pleasant surprises may be ahead, however, according to Benedict.
Seacobeck’s annual “Chef’s Fare,” a competition between Sodexho executive chefs, is scheduled this year for April 1.
There is also a guest chef program running in the dining hall that invites local restaurateurs to prepare one of his or her signature dishes for students to sample.
Last year, a chef from the Irish Pub came to Seacobeck to make shepherd’s pie, while clam and corn chowder was prepared by another chef from Cafe New Orleans.