OK. Let’s face it. School cafeterias have a certain reputation that is less than — umm — great.
Think soggy vegetables, mystery meat and fruit cocktail.
In an effort to avoid that reputation, and meet the needs of students as campus housing gets closer, Orange Coast College officials are expanding food options on campus to offer more choices.
Even now, as the fall semester moves along, things in the realm of food are changing.
Among the changes is the Captain’s Table breakfast, which is served every Friday from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. Reservations must be made in advance and can be scheduled on OCC’s website. The meal costs $5 and includes eggs cooked to order, a choice of toast or pancakes, breakfast potatoes or fruit, with coffee and water.
Bill Barber, an instructor in OCC’s Culinary Arts program, started the Captain’s Table breakfast as an extension of the college’s Directed Practice in Culinary Arts program.
The chefs in the kitchen for the breakfast program are enrolled in Directed Practice I, which Barber said builds on courses like Culinary Principles 1, Principles of Baking, and Principals of Pastry Arts and is a step toward working in a full-fledged commercial kitchen.
The Captain’s Table also serves lunch and dinner on Thursdays at noon for lunch and 6 p.m. for dinner, where Directed Practice II students can hone their craft for full-restaurant services.
Other changes this semester include the choices at the Student Center Cafe, which underwent a layout and menu change to offer more options.
And while some students have complained that the custom options on the Student Center Cafe menu seem overwhelming at first glance, there are more options available for specific diets. Now any meal can substitute Impossible Burger meat instead of beef or JUST Egg, a vegan egg substitute, for vegans and vegetarians.
Thomas Selzer, general manager of Food Services on campus, said the changes were made to accommodate the changing industry and student preferences.
“That’s more where food service is going now in the industry,” Selzer said. “It’s customizable.”
Fooda is also a new program this semester that is housed in an orange-topped tent next to the Snack Shack which brings different restaurants and flavors from the community to campus Monday through Thursday.
Through the Fooda program, Selzer selects restaurants that have proposed to be a part of the program to participate in an interview with a committee. They take care to not schedule restaurants that would conflict with existing food options on campus to minimize conflicts and offer variety.
So far the participating restaurants have included Lemonade and Regina’s Peruvian restaurant.
In addition to these changes, the Chamya hot dog cart will be open all day and will offer both kosher and halal meats.
Selzer also cites changing student demographics and more variety in local restaurants as reasons why these cuisine changes needed to be made.
“We’ve got housing coming on campus, so we need to meet that demand for students,” Selzer said. “You can just drive around the community and see the variety of restaurants. So that’s more competition for us and we just want to make sure we are meeting the demands of our student population.”
While many of the changes on campus were to accommodate students and their preferences, some were made to adjust to employment changes. Some of these changes include the Student Center Cafe now being closed on Fridays.
All of these changes come in anticipation of the new College Center currently under construction. The building will house a new Captain’s Table overlooking the Quad on the second story, along with a new facility filled with updated equipment for Orange Coast College’s Culinary Arts department.
The facility will also house many proposed additions to on-campus food options, such as a wood fire pizza parlor, wok, noodle station and a sushi restaurant.