This school year, the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons will usher in a generous serving of health and wellness with the introduction of ultra-customizable, nutritionally-optimized dining at Stanford’s newest dining hall.
Opened on Friday, Sept. 30, the new dining hall has a 525-person seating capacity and debuted Stanford Dining’s new “Performance Dining Program,” a custom cooking station, a “Wall of Fire” grill station, and a culinary demonstration suite.
Though the new dining hall is focused on providing a dining community for Toyon and Crothers residents, all residents, including graduate students with a meal plan, can eat there.
The new facility is running a pilot program in which it offers meals continuously from 7:30 AM to 2:00 AM in an effort to serve students who cannot make traditional meal times at other dining halls.
According to a representative of Stanford Dining, the new dining complex draws upon staff from the other 10 dining halls across campus. This is possible, she states, “given the efficiencies gain in the new state-of-the-art central production kitchen…” Because Stanford dining halls receive money for every student who swipes in, there will be no redistribution of operational funds from other dining halls to the new dining hall.
The new Performance Dining Program offers nutritious meals developed by registered nutritionists, in partnership with Stanford Athletics, the Culinary Institute of America, and Stanford Medical School. Stanford Dining stated, “The Performance Dining initiative, which falls under our EatWell program, was designed with synergistic food and nutrient combinations and performance themes in mind to help students perform at their mental and physical peak.”
While there will still be a variety of dining options in the new dining hall, the “Performance Bar” will include hot and cold menu items that adhere to “performance dining standards.”
Next to the Performance Bar, a custom induction display cooking station will rotate menu concepts from Panini to Pad Thai. Students choose and customize their choices from the list of options, and the culinary staff cooks each dish to order.
The “Wall of Fire” includes an impressive chargrill for meats, poultry, seafood, and vegetables, and a gas-fired deck oven for slow-cooked dishes and crispy calzones and flatbreads. Adjacent, a massive, eight-spit rotisserie cooks meat and poultry to perfection, just in time for culinary staff-members to hand-carve per order.
“My vision for the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons was to create a design that focuses on academic enrichment by enhancing the student living-and-learning experience with an equally unique, innovative, educational and sustainable dining experience.” said Shirley Everett, Senior Associate Vice Provost for R&DE.
She continued, “This design will foster a sense of community, encouraging intellectual and social engagement that supports individual or group studying and a robust academic speaker series by integrating service, production, and seating with continuous, dynamic flow.”
Featuring two floors, including conventional dining areas and several lounge spaces, the dining hall caters to a variety of dining experiences while still maintaining the efficiency of a centralized kitchen space.
On the second floor, the culinary demonstration suite will host cooking classes, which will be videotaped and streamed on giant flat screens in the dining areas. Additionally, the culinary suite will serve as East campus’ new “late night” dining location, as the former “Dish at Stern” dining will now become “The Dish at Arrillaga,” open seven nights per week. At the Arrillaga location, a “Fit and Healthy” late night menu will be available, providing choices that increase energy and optimize brain power, like the “high protein berry yogurt parfait, spinach and strawberry spring rolls, pesto turkey wraps, and roasted red pepper hummus.”
The dining hall will be in line with new requirements for healthy ingredients, including at least 40% organic produce, 100% cage free eggs, grass-fed beef, sustainable seafood, and wild Alaskan salmon.
In combination with sustainable meal choices served inside, developed by Stanford Dining’s EatWell initiative, the dining hall is also constructed of sustainable building materials, including LED lighting and energy efficient cooking appliances.
Outside, the Commons will include an experimental garden that will employ environmentally-friendly, “biointensive” techniques for gardening; some of the food produced in the garden will even be included in meals.
Last year the Review reported that the second floor of the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons would “double as space for a new Wellness Center on campus.” But right now, a representative explained, “There is no specific Wellness Center upstairs or downstairs.” Instead the upstairs will be host multipurpose and conference rooms designed to promote a “holistic approach to wellness.” Also included will be a “wellness kiosk” featuring a “Wall of Wellness” (WoW), “which will include multiple iPads that each feature a different wellness app for students to explore and learn in a fun and interactive way.”
Initially, these rooms will be open only to Toyon and Crothers students, “to allow them to build community in their home dining hall and for us to ascertain how the space is being used.”
After just a few days of operation, the new commons seems quite popular. Everett stated, “Our commitment to students is that the overall experience at Arrillaga Family Dining Commons will be in keeping with high standards of excellence for great nutritious food, pleasing ambiance and outstanding service which is the hallmark of [Residential and Dining Enterprises].”