By Alysse Schultheis
When students ask for something, McClurg Executive Chef Rick Wright and Director of Sewanee Dining Jeanne Fry listen, and thanks to a generous donation, McClurg Dining Hall will have a new salad bar installed by Easter 2016. This will not be just any salad bar, though. Next semester, students can look forward to a manned salad bar, where there will be someone to make dressing, create custom salads, and deliver a personalized, delicious creation. The new salad bar will also highly improve traffic patterns in McClurg. “Traffic patterns are very important,” said Fry, “and the new salad bar will extend from close to where the current dessert bar is located to the back exit.” Some desserts, such as the cookies and ice cream toppings, will also relocate to the end of the salad bar to allow for more room and less stampeding as everyone rushes to grab M&M cookies hot out of the oven. Different salads will be featured every day, such as a chicken Caesar salad with bacon dressing (Yum!), or students can create their own salad toward the end of the salad bar. The soups will also be located at the end of the salad bar, but the vegan soup will be moved to the vegetarian station. Every day students can expect both a clear and cream based soup, further increasing the many options included in the new salad bar. If that does not pique your interest enough, there will also be hot, fresh baked bread, ranging from corn bread to baguettes, next to the soup!
Fresh and local produce has increasingly been an important focus in McClurg, and the new salad bar will help strengthen this key component. “There will be more diversity and color included, as well as a focus on ‘clean’ foods, which do not contain any preservatives,” said Wright. Local produce will be highlighted and students will see more ambient food that can be stored at room temperature, such as croutons and sunflower seeds. “The goal is to create a very inviting salad bar so people will want to go,” said Wright. With these new improvements, the traffic will not only flow better in the dining hall, but the salad bar will better serve those who already enjoy some greens and encourage others to try something new. Aside from the wonderful new selection of salad toppings and dressings, the salad bar itself will look stunning. There will still be stainless steel included in the design, but there will also be wood paneling that matches the ceiling on the front of the salad bar and stone that matches the bakery. “Stainless steel is not warm and inviting, and by including more color in the salad bar, we hope it will present the food better,” said Fry. Sneeze guards will be solid glass so that they appear to disappear in midair. Even more fancy, the plate rails will be made out of glass and have lights shining behind the plates. The current salad bar also requires ice to be continuously poured into the station in order to keep the food at their proper temperatures, which is not very energy efficient. The new salad bar will have sate of the art equipment that keeps the greens chilled and ready for students to munch on. McClurg staff will also be able to refill toppings and lettuce from behind the salad bar, which will decrease traffic jams and time spent waiting in line.
The new design was created by Fry, who specializes in dining hall design, and the new salad bar will be almost completely contained and self-sufficient in order to decrease cross contamination. The new salad bar will be a wonderful addition to the dining hall, but that’s not all that students can look forward to next semester. A touch screen order tablet is also currently in the works to be included at the omelet and burger station! Students will be able to design their own burger, omelet, or sandwich with the touch of a few buttons. “I like to be handed a complete plate that doesn’t require me to add anything, and that is what we hope to create for students,” said Fry.