IN EARLY October, USA Today College ran an article titled “The best colleges in each state based on dining hall food.” Some winners included Princeton, Seattle Tech, Yale, and Purdue.
The Oregon frontrunner? Our very own Lewis & Clark. The article writes:
“Who doesn’t love a good omelet bar and fresh fruit? Students at Lewis & Clark University [sic] sure do! You can find these breakfast necessities at Fields Dining Room, nicknamed ‘the Bon,’ which is the main dining hall on campus.”
The article was accompanied by an Instagram photo that showed a classic brunch at LC: eggs, waffles, sausage, coffee, a bagel and fruit.
Scott Clagett, the Executive Chef for Bon Appetit at LC, heard about the new ranking in an email from his District Manager about the article and agreed with the assessment.
“I think for what we have to work with and how many students we feed on a regular basis, I think it’s justified,” Clagett said. “The fact that we can provide this level of food for the masses in an all-you-can-eat setting is pretty rare. I’m proud of it.”
Clagett pointed out some of the differences between LC’s dining halls and other colleges.
“We’re all based off of using great ingredients and cooking from scratch,” Clagett said. “That’s the main thing that separates us from the other campuses out there. We have a commitment to go out and seek the best seasonal ingredients from farmers, bring it in, clean, peel, chop, cook it every day… I know what a lot of college food is like, and I know the principles that their cooking is based on, and ours is completely different. It’s like I’m running my own restaurant. I’m running lamb on Wednesday because my lamb farmer is bringing me lamb on Tuesday.”
One of Bon Appetit’s key marketing points is that they use locally sourced goods, and that the food is prepared the day of, not pre-prepared and frozen.
Clagett and his chefs, including a pastry chef for desserts, get to decide the menu every day. Clagett pointed out that one reason LC deserves its #1 rating is the extent to which they work with various student diets. He gives his chefs a lot of freedom to experiment and work on dishes, within Bon Appetit’s general parameters, of course.
“I’m trying to look into what you guys like to eat and design the menu accordingly, so that we’re feeding the big football player who wants a lot of meat and the person who wants brown rice and simple steamed vegetables,” Clagett said.
Ocean Eale ’19, a Bon worker, echoed Clagett’s sentiments.
“We’re always serving healthy options, we have a buffet style, so the kids don’t go hungry when they come to eat at our establishment,” Eale said. Eale’s favorite food to eat at the Bon is tacos.
The buffet style of eating is one of the more unique aspects of the Bon at LC. Many other colleges have dining hall stations where students can order meals to be prepared in front of them, whereas at LC students get to pick from options laid out in front of them.
Clagett pointed out that for the more picky eaters, buffet style eating is helpful: they can pick and choose from the salad bar, grill, fork and knife, spice trail and super bowl sections of the Bon. And there’s always the Trailroom for more comfort-style foods like pizza and burgers. In a typical day, the Fields Dining hall seats 950 students per meal (most at lunch). At the beginning of the semester it is closer to 1200 per meal.
Madeleine Bentley ’19 voiced her opinion on the quality of LC’s dining halls.
“I think for college food, it’s pretty ok,” she said. “When they try to do something fancy it goes bad. They have a gingerbread thing that’s good… the desserts are great.”
Nationally, LC is ranked no. 61.