Dining Services Director Helmut Mayer quoted a proverb in his native German to describe some of Knox’s less adventurous eaters: “What the farmer does not know,” Mayer said, “he does not eat.”
However, Mayer has spent all summer dreaming up new and creative menu items that he hopes students will try before opting for the ever-popular smiley face potatoes in the cafeteria line this year.
One of the Caf’s new additions, a fresh fruit smoothie bar, debuted at the Hard Knox Café on Friday night. It was such a success that students holding 16 ounce cups of fruit were lined up past the hummus containers as blenders roared.
Mayer encourages cafeteria-goers to think outside the box when it comes to smoothie creations.
“Be creative, get some ice cream, put your mind to it,” he says.
Junior Hali Engelmen took his inspirational advice to heart, adding chocolate chips to her smoothie.
“It’s delicious, but I put too many chocolate chips in it.” Engelman said. “I might throw up.”
Along with the smoothie bar, dining services has added other new and exciting options, such as vegetarian pad thai, quinoa, Cuban shredded beef and homemade calzones.
For dessert, diners can chose from 32 varieties of fat-free frozen yogurt, or get a pick-me-up from the Latin American stimulant of choice, yerba mate, which is now among the many teas available.
With the addition of new menu items, a few of the less popular ones will be taken out of the rotation this year. “Street Meat Night” in the Oak Room is no longer offered, but a “Quesadillas of the World” lunch and “World Street Food” night, featuring foreign delicacies like shawarma and Indian potato pancakes will take its place.
The pizza pockets have also been phased out.
“That’s high school food,” Mayer said.
With new ethnic dishes, the expulsion of frozen pizza pockets and a variety of local and organic foods, dining services is ensuring that Knox is not your high school cafeteria.
Mayer explains that while he cannot get rid of smiley face potatoes, he strives to make as many dishes as he can using fresh and local ingredients.
“If I buy something that has a two-page ingredient list, I get rid of it,” Mayer admits.
Yet many want to know if the price for quality will be passed on to students.
Mayer is quick to point out that he has seen prices 20 percent higher at other colleges and universities. The price of a meal at Oberlin is $18.00, whereas at Knox the price ranges from $5.86 to $11.95 per meal.
Junior Kaitlyn Duling, student Dining Services chair, said she wants to make sure students are aware of any changes in price, and that their voices are being represented.
“I want to make sure that the information is flowing both ways, that students are aware of changes in Dining Services, and that Dining Services is aware of what students want (and don’t want),” Duling said.
While Dining Services makes its best effort to give students what they want and please all types of palates, Mayer has a word of advice, “’I’m picky’ is not a good answer. I’m sorry.”