New food options come to campus

Executive Catering Chef Elias Acosta (left) and Executive Chef Gene Christiano of Chartwells demonstrated the different options coming to Smashed, the new potato restaurant, at a tasting event on July 29. (Jennifer Chi | Mercury Staff)

Five new dining services will come to UTD this fall thanks to the efforts of Auxiliary Services.

Director of Auxiliary Services Carrie Chutes and Assistant Vice President of Auxiliary Services Bob Fishbein said that they look forward to the implementation of the new dining services as well as new dining options.

In order to better cater to students with food allergies or specific diets, Dining Hall West will offer a new food station where the beans and greens used to be. The menu will consist of fully planned meals such as grilled chicken, vegan hominy and brown rice. All of the options will be under 500 calories.

“Our new area is called Oasis and it will be just left of the bakery,” Chutes said. “It will be a dedicated food prep cooking station solely contained for gluten free and the eight major allergens.”

Just like Dining Hall West, The Pub is also receiving menu updates as well as bringing back old favorites, such as quesadillas and wraps. There will also be new dessert options available, such as cinnamon churros and red velvet cake.

“We have a section on the menu called chopped or wrapped, and it’s basically your protein such as southern fried chicken, which also can be grilled as a gluten free option, and a salad, chicken Caesar or chipotle chicken,” Chutes said. “We also have the addition of a smokey bean burrito.”

Auxiliary Services has also altered services in the Student Union, such as the separation of the potato portion of Create into its own area where Baal’s Spice Kitchen used to be , now to be called Smashed. Chutes said the price will remain the same, and that although there are set menu items, customers still have the ability to create their own potato similar to that at Create.

“Every year we look at what’s working and what’s not, especially when it comes to operational efficiency and what we can do to get the people through the line quicker,” Fishbein said. “We noticed that people ordering salads were slowed down by the people waiting for their potato, so by splitting up (the line), we think we got it.”

Auxiliary Services has added to their stationary food options and to their mobile ones as well. Chutes said they interviewed multiple food trucks over the summer to add to the variety of food choices.

“By having multiple trucks together it makes it more of a destination spot, more of an atmosphere,” Fishbein said. “When it is just one truck, it gets tiring but when there are multiple, it is now an atmosphere and it is now a place to go.”

Chutes said that the qualifications for the food trucks to come to UTD were set very high, and that they will be around Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m starting this fall. The cuisine will range from Asian to Italian, as well as offering a few dessert options and boba tea. The trucks will be parked between the Activity Center and the Visitor Center.

Fishbein said the new food trucks are contracted and insured through their dining service partner, Chartwells, so as to provide consistency and properly handled food. He also said that these new options are decided solely by students’ opinions.

“This is not us going and changing the menu, it’s not just an emotional thing on our side,” Fishbein said. “We do have these focus groups and committee meetings. Carrie hosts most of them and that’s how we came up with these additional menu items.”

Chutes said that Auxiliary Services is in the final stages of preparing a marketing campaign, which they started last year during Welcome Week called Shop UTD. The campaign combines food and retail offered through Auxiliary Services, and will be represented with its own web page as well as on an app in which students can receive deals and promos.

“We are going to have another Shop UTD event Aug. 29 as a part of Welcome Week from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the visitor center building,” Chutes said. “We will be debuting the new student catering menu. We want to get Student Government and representatives from student organizations to come.”

Last year, Auxiliary Services received the Innovator of the Year award. The dining services team will continue to build on that recognition and brainstorm new and healthier food options.

“We were fortunate to win an award last year and we won’t settle for that,” Chutes said.  “We want to keep pushing and seeing how we can be more innovative and different.”

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