BY NIKKI BERNETT
Seacobeck Dining Center recently opened up the Faculty & Staff Dining Room to allow students to dine full-service restaurant style on campus.
This event, held on Wednesday, Feb 19, was the University of Mary Washington’s first participation in Sodexo’s “Crave Series,” a branch of their Elite Events. It is considered a “swipe plus event” on campus because students can use a meal swipe and additional flex.
Students, as well as the public, were invited to enjoy a three course meal for $18.99, or one meal swipe and $13 in flex for students. Students that made reservations in advance received a $2 discount because pre-ordering of food allows the chefs to prepare in advance, but walk-ins were also welcome.
The event’s theme was Brazilian. A freshman International affairs and economics double major, Seble Girmay, described the bread as “so moist, it was like it had been injected with butter.”
For appetizers, students chose between shrimp cocktail Paraiba, green leaves and grilled fruit salad or a faijoada black bean and pork soup.
The entrees were gaucho grilled flank steak, Brazilian chorasco pork, Brazilian vegetable curry and passion fruit grilled chicken and sausage with a variety of dipping sauces.
Sides with the entrée included Brazilian rice, Brazilian style mustard greens and South American roasted root vegetables.
Dessert included caramel banana cheesecake, coconut chocolate tart or Brazilian mango sorbet.
Jackie Crouch, a freshman music education major, said that there were too many choices so she sent her older sisters the menu to help her decide.
“They make food all the time, they know what I like. They made great choices,” Crouch said.
However, Crouch admitted she was a little apprehensive of the bean and pork soup because of all the jalapeños in it.
Students appreciated the different dining option for the night.
“It’s a nice break from campus dining. It’s nice food and I don’t have to pay a lot,” said Hannah Zontine, a freshman psychology and English double major. “College kids are broke and we don’t get to eat out. This is something they should mention in open houses, parents would like knowing this.”
The Faculty and Staff Dining room was transformed into a Brazilian Restaurant. To aid the atmosphere, the lights were dimmed, black tablecloths were put out and upbeat Brazilian music played in the background.
For a more authentic fine dining experience, students who were 21 and older also had the option to purchase a glass of wine. Genuine Brazilian coffee was also an option as well as various soft drinks.
Students were seated by their individual parties and then served by one of the four members of the wait staff on the catering team.
According to Rose Benedict, unit marketing coordinator for UMW dining, the aim of the event was to give students a chance to experience fine dining without leaving campus.
“It’s a really wonderful experience,” Benedict said. “The students get exposed to flavor profiles and they are getting fine dining with flex and a meal plan. It’s a great value.”
Most students did not mind paying for a nice meal with their flex account because they have a lot to burn through each semester, and they got to enjoy a full meal with restaurant style service.
“Overall it’s really good. The portion size was really good for a three course meal,” said Josh Mwandu, a freshman computer science major.
“You normally eat five plates!” Crouch added.
While Sodexo provides the theme for the event, the menu is a collaborative effort.
“We changed [the menu] to suit the tastes and flavors of students here,” said Benedict.
According to Benedict, the chefs at UMW researched authentic recipes for the gaucho grilled flank steak and the mustard greens because they wanted to let students experience a new culture they otherwise would not get a chance to.
For some students, this is an entirely new kind of menu.
“It’s gone, so I guess it was pretty good. I’ve never had Brazilian food before,” said Jessica Hogan, a freshman psychology major.
The staff at the event were accommodating to students with special diets.
Emma Goodacre, a senior political science major, who has a dairy intolerence, emailed ahead of time asking about ingredients, and since she could not have any of the dessert options, the staff offered her a fruit cup instead.
Roy Platt, general manager of dining services, said the items featured in the “Crave Series” events “aren’t normally carried in our inventory. We have to marinade, prepare and get everything ready. It’s not your typical food plate.”
The prices of these special items determine the cost students will pay for this meal in addition to their meal swipe.
According to Platt, the “Crave Series” is “provided as enhancement of [the dining] program, but it’s not a money making opportunity for us. It adds to student dining experience and breaks the monotony.”
Zontine summed up the general opinion of the “Crave Series” when she said, “this [meal] is worth 15 grilled cheeses. We should have this more often.”
The next event in the “Crave Series” will be tapas on March 25, followed by American on April 10.