By SAVANNAH BOYD
Four weeks ago, William Hardy was brought on as UMW’s new Executive Chef. As a result of this hire, students can expect a period of change in campus dining, especially for the University Center dining hall.
As Executive Chef, Hardy is responsible for everything involving the production of food in the University Center dining hall.
“He’s an exceptional chef and has hit the ground running. He has made a lot of changes already and things are looking great,” said retail manager Mark Bradley.
With a new Executive Chef, UMW students can expect changes in the dining experience. “There will be change all over campus eventually, but the initial changes will be seen in the UC,” said Hardy. “This is because they have the opportunity to serve more people there so we can get feedback quicker.”
In the UC, several of the prospective changes center around the Sustenance Buffet and Vegan Grill. “We are working now to take the place of sushi in the UC. It is on the drafting board, but we are playing with the idea of a vegan smoothie or vegan bowl, in a grab-n-go style,” said Hardy.
Simply-to-Go and the Eagle’s Nest will see changes as well. The sandwich presentation will be changed to be more visually appealing and to allow students to view the ingredients in their purchases.
This year, there is a new sushi option located by Vocelli Pizza in the Nest. The sushi shop has already received positive feedback. “While I would love to take credit for it, it was implemented before I got here,” said Hardy. “I am not sure who decided to implement it but they deserve a high-five.”
Sophomore Chloe Wade said “I really like the new sushi; it tastes really good and fresh. I eat a lot of sushi so I am kind of critical about sushi, but I think they did a really good job. I also like how they included meal deals with it because other sushi can be expensive sometimes.”
Chef Hardy’s vision for UMW dining includes a focus on freshness and simplicity in food. His advice to young cooks?
“If you want to impress me, make chicken taste like chicken. Not the pile of whatever you put on top of it,” Hardy said. “I want to move towards a very simple but deliberate program that you can taste the difference, that it is simple and quality.” Part of this plan includes the possible creation of a community garden on campus. “Although it would not feed everybody, the garden could have student volunteers and is something we could keep up with so you can see how hard it is to go from ground to plate,” said Hardy.
“We are food-driven, ingredient-driven and are considering the person on the other side of the fork,” said Hardy.
Not only will there be a change in the food being prepared but also a change in who prepares it. Hardy has multiple chef certifications, and this year some of the dining staff will be working towards becoming certified sous chefs and cooks.
“We are not going to be a bunch of guys down here in t-shirts making your food. You are going to have nationally certified and accredited guys who are passionate about what they do, so much that they are staking their career on it. So that is something special,” said Hardy.
Hardy says his childhood shaped him into the chef he is today. “I have the typical chef story. We were pretty poor when I was a kid, and my mom had a way of making something out of nothing. I would open the fridge and say ‘Oh great nothing again’. And she would go in there and have this big spread made out of nothing. And learning that secret was what got me interested,” Hardy said.
Throughout his career, Hardy has worked at Hilton Hotels, the Platinum Team at Army Navy in Arlington, Washington Golf and Country Club, Chantilly National Country Club and fine dining restaurants such as Marcel’s. UMW is his first university dining experience, and so far, so good.
“I am falling in love with it,” said Hardy.