By Samantha Belenson

Buzzing with eager and hungry students, the PUC cafeteria experiences waves of commotion throughout the day. Recently, additional choices have been added to the cafe menu. Boba, brownies and lava cake have all made welcome appearances in the cafeteria. So, where do these ideas come from, and do students have anything to do with it? Allen Plouffe, the general manager of the Bon Appetit team at PUC, has provided additional insight to these changes and has answered some popular questions for the student body.

To provide a little bit of background, how long as PUC been using Bon Appetit services? “Bon Appetit has been the food service provider for PUC since the summer of 2007.”

On average, how many meals are prepared daily? “We prepare about 1,250 hot meals per day and 200 ‘graband-go’ items on weekdays.”

How does the cafe decide the menu for the week? “Our chefs use a combination of ways to write the menu. We look at what have been the most popular dishes in the past, what new dishes might get the students excited, seasonal availability of fresh local ingredients, the cooking skill level of our staff and cost to produce the menu.”

Students have noticed a few changes and additions to the cafeteria. For example, there has been the addition of a boba, brownie and ice cream stand. Where do these ideas come from? What is the process of implementing a new food option? “These ideas come from the collaboration of our chefs and our past experiences. We look at what is on trend and what works at some of the other colleges. It also helps that with Bon Appetit there are no corporate policies regarding what we can and cannot do. All that is required is that we make great food for our customers and make them happy. The only process is for us to go ahead and give something a try. Our CEO, Fedel Bauccio, has always stated, ‘Never be afraid to fail.’ (I was a Chef for Bon Appetit for eight years before making the switch to general manager, so we all collaborate well together).”

When students are still hungry after the cafeteria closes, there are still hot food options available in the Grind (burritos and pretzels). How did this idea come into play? What sparked this addition? “For years there has been food available in the Grind. Students need to have hot food available on their schedule. We struggled a little bit earlier this year with staffing to produce the needed items but have tried to make it a priority the last two quarters. As far as options, we make food that is fast for us to produce in [large quantities].”

Is/will there ever be a rotation of these “after-hour” meals? If so, how are these decided? “Look for changes to the latenight program over the coming year as we plan to do more. Our biggest challenge is staffing and space available/equipment to serve these items.”

* Has there ever been an instance where the students have voiced a suggestion/ complaint where change has followed?* “Yes. Earlier in the year, we had several gluten-free students who felt that there were not enough choices and options. Although we were serving many dishes that were gluten-free, we were not specifically labeling them. We made a commitment to these students to make sure that all gluten-free specials were clearly marked on the cafe website as well as on the menu in the cafe. We also add glutenfree options to the deli and soup bar to make sure that there were lots of choices.”

What can students expect in the future? Are there any more potential dessert/meal options that we should look forward to? “Look forward to seeing the ‘Impossible Burger’ as a regular menu item several times a month as this has been hugely successful. We are also looking forward to warmer weather so we can provide lunches and activities outside. Chef Eddie is really into desserts and is always planning new things. We have several more exciting things in the works that will hopefully change the way we eat here at PUC over the next few years, but it’s too early to share.”

Additionally, the people of Bon Appetit are approachable and are always accessible to the student body. Allen continued, “My door is always open and my direct cell phone number is posted on the cafeteria calendars around the caf. Any student can call or text me any time they have a question, concern or issue.”