Chef’s Corner

Leah ThompsonStaff Writer

The Kitchen Cabinet is an organization on campus that is composed of students and employees. This group seeks to informally advise the Dining Service Director on how the Dining Service can continue to deeply serve the educational mission of Gustavus.

The Kitchen Cabinet meets monthly to address the questions, concerns, and opportunities the Dining Service faces as it creates meals for the greater community. As the Dining Service fosters this sense of community, it strives to support and advance the educational goals of the college, which consist of excellence, justice, community, service, and faith.

Over the past decade, the Kitchen Cabinet has been a driving force behind a variety of sustainability initiatives. For example, the Kitchen Cabinet has been involved in creating and implementing the Gustieware program, the campus composter, Big Hill Farm, the campus fair trade designation, and the Coca-Cola Sustainability Grant program.

In 2008, the Gustieware program began when the Dining Services wanted to create a way to cut back on waste. The purpose of the Gustieware program is to reduce the usage of cardboard containers and create a reusable take-out option for students.

With the help of the Kitchen Cabinet, composting became widely accessible across campus. As of last year, most dorm buildings were given mini green compost bins to help encourage students to compost in their rooms.

According to the mission statement, “The Big Hill Farm is a student-run organization that strives to educate the Gustavus community about local food production, food justice, gardening techniques, and plant care.” 

The Big Hill Farm also sells all its produce to the Gustavus Dining Services which is incorporated daily into meals.

Many of the monthly Kitchen Cabinet meeting minutes are posted online for students and staff to browse through to gain a better understanding of the group’s thought process.

Another aspect of the Gustavus Dining Service experience is access to a registered dietitian.

Jen Donkin is a registered dietitian on campus that works with Health Service and Dining Service. She works with the Dining Service by doing the nutrition analysis for the recipes and works to update the daily menu on the Gustavus website with the nutrition and allergy information.

Donkin also encourages students to “Look at how they’re filling their plate and check to see what they’re missing.” She explained that fruits, vegetables, and fiber are typically missing from a typical student’s plate. However, students can use MyPlate as a guide to help them create a well-balanced meal.

If any students are interested in learning more about nutrition or healthy eating habits throughout college and beyond, students can schedule an appointment with Donkin in Health Services for free. Those who take on this service are given a safe space to ask questions, look at their health concerns, and have a personalized plan developed.

During the last monthly Kitchen Cabinet meeting, an idea was proposed to have a small weekly section in the newspaper called “Chef’s Corner”. In this weekly segment Chef Tim, the executive chef in the Dining Services, would be able to share information about different food in the cafeteria.

Some segment ideas could be about what’s made from scratch, new menu items, and low energy foods.