New chef gets chopping at Jamestown CollegeFor 10 years now, ARAMARK — a domestic and international food service company — has been in charge of feeding the student body at Jamestown College.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
For 10 years now, ARAMARK — a domestic and international food service company — has been in charge of feeding the student body at Jamestown College.
One notable difference for this school year at JC will be the presence of a new head chef cooking at Westminster Dining Hall.
Executive Chef Bret Reay — whose 15-year culinary career has taken him from Austin, Texas, to Glacier Bay, Ala. — will be at the helm of the JC kitchen for ARAMARK beginning this fall semester.
“What I want to bring most to Jamestown College is attention to detail,” Reay said. “Even when preparing simple, basic, comfort food, it’s important to think about texture, flavor, color, presentation and all the things that ensure a good bite, a great meal and hopefully a memorable dining experience.”
Reay, a Thief River Falls, Minn., native who majored in English at North Dakota State University, said he hopes to bring a passion to the food prepared at JC.
“This year, I want everyone who dines with us here to experience, without question, in every aspect of what we do, that someone cares and is passionate about the food we offer,” he said.
Reay said his first job in a professional kitchen was at Shakey’s Pizza in Fargo while attending NDSU. As an English major, however, Reay wouldn’t find his true calling until after college.
“Years later, I found my professional calling while working at The Blue Moose in East Grand Forks, Minn. I worked my way up through the various kitchen positions — beginning as a fry cook — and eventually moved on to other restaurants in the Red River Valley,” he said.
Reay is one piece of a larger puzzle for campus dining in 2012-2013, which each year continues to expand its offerings to students and the general public at Westminster Dining Hall in Nafus Student Center.
“Every year there is a new group of students on campus with new taste preferences. Based upon comments from students last year, we will be enhancing our deli by featuring a panini grill, allowing customers to further customize their sandwich,” said Eric Elenkiwich, director of dining at JC.
Beyond the new grill, Elenkiwich said there will be more ice cream and smoothie options at the campus Java Hut Coffee Shop and in the convenience store.
Requests for those types of items come directly from students and members of the public who fill out surveys — something Elenkiwich says ARAMARK takes quite seriously.
“We work really hard to ensure our customers’ expectations are being met or exceeded,” he said.
The new chef’s arrival is expected to bring a fresh enthusiasm, according to Gary Van Zinderen, dean of students at JC.
“ARAMARK does not have an easy job by any means, but they’ve been with us about 10 years now and they’ve done very well,” Van Zinderen said.
An emphasis on healthy options and nutritional facts has been strongly stated recently, especially by the student body, according to Van Zinderen.
“We have a very athletics- and activities-based student body, so a lot have been asking for healthy options. And there are some new and exciting ideas with that, which will go along with the old favorites like the traditional burgers and fries,” he said. “And that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with having the old favorites, too.”
As for the change in head chef, Van Zinderen said it’s not uncommon for staffing changes to take place, and Elenkiwich said it was merely a greater opportunity for both ARAMARK and the college.
“We recognized that we had an opportunity to take the dining services at Jamestown College to the next level, and bringing in new ideas and a fresh perspective will help to enhance our program,” Elenkiwich said.
Open to the public
The campus dining hall is not limited to Jamestown College students, however.
Elenkiwich said campus dining is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the week and on weekends.
“All meals are all-you-care-to-eat dining and feature six different stations with food ranging from the classic comforts to made-to-order international cuisine,” he said.
Monday through Friday, breakfast is from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and costs $5.25. Lunch is from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. and costs $6.50. Dinner costs $7 and is from 4:45 to 7:30 p.m. except for Friday when it closes at 6:30 p.m.
On weekends, brunch is offered on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dinner is offered on Saturday from 5 to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
For more information about Westminster Dining Hall, visit www.campusdish.com/en-US/CSMW/Jamestown.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org