By: Devyn Giannetti – Staff Writer
Kennedy Union is known for having a grill, pasta bar, comfort food and salad bar, among other options. But this year, a new window opened within the dining hall: authentic Chinese food.
A factor that played into the implementation of Chinese cuisine at KU was a student request to Lisa Glaser, general manager of Kennedy Union dining services, and Chuck Emberton, assistant general manager of Kennedy Union dining services . There is a large contingent of Chinese undergraduate and graduate students, and Virgina W. Kettering dining hall already has Mideastern cuisine for some of the students coming from the Middle East.
The implementation of this new window was a collaborative effort organized by the leadership at KU.
“We want to make the food very authentic, not ‘Americanize’ it in any way, and cater to these student’s taste palate,” Glaser said.
In order to execute this goal, KU brought in Qui Ye Fan, owner of Wah Fu on Brown Street. After the restaurant closed down, Fan came to work at Marycrest. With a love for cooking Chinese food, she was deemed the perfect person to collaborate with on this new project.
“The things Miss Fan is making are labor intensive. Matthew Somich is a trained chef working with Miss Fan to learn her recipes and work along side her,” Emberton said.
Catering chef Trinh Ma has also been brought in to work on the project. She has assisted with recipe development and operational execution.
“Trinh has helped the production side of things,” Emberton said. “She is helping us get authentic items and has gone to the Chinese Asian market to obtain spices, oils and vegetables, and has made some of the sauces for the pot stickers and dumplings. She plays a very strong consulting role and makes sure everyone keeps [the food] authentic.”
Some menu items being featured in this new platform include hand-rolled Chinese dumplings, steamed buns, pot stickers, rainbow salad, cucumber salad, barbecue pork and sticky rice.
KU has invited Chinese students and staff to taste tests, where they have received advice about how to make the food more authentic and if something is too sweet or spicy.
“We want to cater it to their palate, not ours,” Glaser said.
The platform has been opened on three occasions, the past three Tuesdays from 11 – 2 p.m. Evaluation forms were put out so students could write their feedback about the food.
“The feedback was very favorable,” Glaser said. “Students gave us ideas for future entrees and the feedback helped us improve our food for the next time. One of our most popular entrees has been the pot stickers.”
The Chinese food window will be open again after winter break on Tuesdays from 11 – 2 p.m., but Glaser and Emberton hope to extend the hours with increased positive feedback.
“We are very excited to do this,” Glaser said. “It is a unique challenge that we have embraced, and we really look forward to working with the community to improve our window. I think it displays UD striving to reach across lines and make everyone feel at home. Students feel genuinely pleased that we’re trying to make them feel at home.”