As part of Occidental’s Earth Week celebration, Campus Dining will pilot an organic smoothie bar in the Marketplace April 24. The bar will be a fixture of Saturday brunches beginning Fall 2015.
According to Executive Chef Michael “Meesh” Montygierd, Chef Conrado Gomez proposed the idea of a smoothie bar in order to accommodate the overwhelming demand by students in the past few years. The chefs also saw it as an opportunity to increase the college’s purchases of sustainable ingredients.
“We’re doing it to make [students] happy—that’s the first thing,” Montygierd said. “But it’s also an opportunity to use the local and organic ingredients with it.”
He said that featuring this menu item will positively impact Occidental’s participation in the Real Food Challenge—a national campaign that encourages colleges and universities to buy at least 20 percent “real food” annually by 2020. Among other criteria, “real food” includes local and organic ingredients—both of which will be featured in the smoothies. Campus Dining will also purchase Fosselman’s ice cream and dairy products from other local vendors for occasional special recipes.
Montygierd plans to offer simple flavors such as blueberry lemonade and strawberry banana at the beginning of the year. Then, more elaborate and unique recipes—such as protein smoothies and green smoothies—will be introduced, as new students warm up to the Occidental menu.
“At the beginning of the school year you have a lot of new kids who are still eating chicken tenders and French fries and they’re not ready for the kale salad, for example,” Montygierd said. “After hanging out with Oxy students for a while they want the kale and things like that.”
The chefs will also be open for recipe suggestions through the Campus Dining online suggestion box.
Anna Misenti (sophomore), a Green Bean barista, previously worked at Sunshine Frozen Yogurt and Smoothies on Bainbridge Island, Washington. She expects that real-fruit smoothies will be a big hit with students because the Green Bean and the Tiger Cooler only offer smoothies made from packaged mixes.
“People get disappointed at the Green Bean because the smoothies are all syrup,” she said.
Misenti suggested offering an assortment of smoothies, such as berry or tropical flavors, along with recipes containing spinach, kale, carrots, beets, ginger and other health foods.
Montygierd is excited to offer one of his favorite recipes that includes dates, bananas and coconut milk.
“It’s vegan, gets you a lot of protein, hits you with all the vitamins,” he said.
Still, smoothies such as his favorite recipe are labor-intensive and therefore will not be in rotation as often as simpler combinations, Montygierd said.
Campus Dining plans to offer only a few flavors at once due to expected high demand, time constraints and the labor involved in preparing fruit. Montygierd hopes that students will recognize the opportunity costs of having specialty menu items in a kitchen that serves up to 4,000 meals a day.
“My concern is that it’s going to get such a big demand that they’re going to want it every day, but aren’t going to understand that we can’t do it every day but it’s a specialty item,” he said.
Misenti said that making the smoothies in bulk would expedite the process, but, based on her previous experience at a smoothie shop, she thinks that making smoothies individually would eventually be manageable—it just takes time to learn how to do it efficiently. She hopes that the process goes smoothly so that the smoothie bar will become a lasting addition to the Marketplace.
Montygierd has a similar goal. He thinks of the student experience in the Marketplace as “the class for your pallet” and hopes that the smoothie bar is one way that students will be encouraged to try unfamiliar ingredients as well as increase consciousness about sustainable eating.