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AVI meets MI6: Chefs surveil choices to improve meals

AVI meets MI6: Chefs surveil choices to improve meals

By Margot Maley

Taco Tuesday. Big Cookie Friday. Kung Pao Saturday. To the especially observant, these days are important staples in the Peirce dining experience. But is there a rhyme or reason to these delicious patterns? AVI Resident Director Kim Novak took a shot at solving the mystery of the Peirce patterns, and answered many a Kenyon student’s questions about these inevitabilities.

“Our menu cycles go from Monday through Sunday. When you’re plotting out that Monday through Sunday, then you’ve got to remember on Monday ナ to look at Sunday to make sure things don’t overlap, you know? It’s like a puzzle that we put together,” Novak said. AVI plans out its menus yearly, working together with chefs like AVI Executive Sous Chef Meagan Worth-Cappell to create meals students will enjoy, while also taking into account patterns and trends of what is eaten. “If everyone ate stromboli today, we know you probably didn’t care for [what was served at the] Fusion [station],” she said. Features like big cookies on Fridays and Taco Tuesdays were brought about by such trends in student demands.

“Those are things we do try to establish,” Novak said, referring to these favorites. The upcoming Late Night Slice event on Dec. 7ᆳ ラ ᆳa meal of pizza, pasta, breadsticks, salad and desserts that AVI hopes to make a regular occurrence, according to Peirce Hall’s Facebook page ラ as well as Peirce’s end-of-semester Midnight Breakfast on Dec. 15 and, of course, Peircegiving, are indicative of AVI’s aim to create meals that students will continue to look forward to.

“We do try to do some more fun things on Friday and Saturday night,” Novak said. This usually means that options like Kung Pao chicken or build-your-own stir fry happen on days when AVI shakes things up for the weekend.

“That’s why we haven’t had Kung Pao chicken in a while,” Daisy VanDenburgh ’16, who also serves as fact checker for the Collegian‘s Sports section, said. “We’ve been [eating] out on the weekends and missing it.” When a reporter relayed this to Novak, she immediately recommended that VanDenburgh contact her. Comment cards and conversations with AVI staff are always welcome,” she said.

Novak also emphasized the effort AVI puts into providing variety for Kenyon students while keeping sustainability and cost in mind. “You’ll find the Kenyon menus are … especially in the fall and in the spring … are more focused around what we can buy locally to increase our sustainability, our low-impact on the environment and also to give the freshest food to the students,” Novak said. It’s well known on campus that AVI works hard to ensure the sustainability of its food ラ the map in the Peirce atrium, which shows the close proximity of our food sources, is a testament to that fact. “We’re talking right down the street,” she said.

This is another factor in Peirce menu patterns. Because so much of AVI’s food is dependent on what local farms are harvesting, Novak and AVI’s chefs will adjust the menu based on what’s available.

“We’ll change the menu. If we have lots of broccoli, we will add more broccoli to the menu,” Novak said. She also mentioned that because there had been so much kale this autumn, one of the cooks suggested making kale smoothies, which were a wildly popular item as evidenced by the line that snaked from the Fusion station to the entrance of the servery. This means that some weeks there will naturally be repetition with produce options.

“We’re here so that students can eat well and feel good about it, and have good opportunities to have good foods,” Novak said. “If that means sometimes we have kale multiple times a week, so be it.”

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