WATCH: Michigan State Aims To Give Healthy Food Options For Fitness-Minded Students
Students are more disciplined in their food intake to support athletic performance or lifestyle choices.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Kurt Kwiatkowski, Michigan State’s Corporate Executive Chef, has trouble picking just one of his favorite on-campus cafeteria meals.
He knows the student population is changing in what they are looking for in food, like junior Erven Desriveau.
“Probably one of my favorite areas to go to as of late is the My Bowl, which is the grain bowl over at Case,” said Kwiatkowski. “The barbecue that comes out of The Pit over at Akers is always phenomenal … and then I look at some of the Latin food at Holden.”
Kwiatkowski has been at MSU for 22 years, starting at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.
"The role that I'm in, it’s ever-changing because we are ever-changing,” said Kwiatkowski. “I'm the first person to have this job at MSU, but numerous other colleges and institutions have an executive chef for campus.”
A large portion of Kwiatkowski’s responsibilities are to oversee the operation and preparation of serving around 40,000 meals for residential dining.
"Menus for fall are due to me to look at in the middle of April. So we have to have a good clear idea of where we're going by April,” said Kwiatkowski. “We're not here to tell people what they can and can not or should not eat. What we want to do is offer as many possible options as we can.”
Kwiatkowski and his team do their best to build the menus around students’ different taste pallets, as well as their different dietary and lifestyle choices.
With so many meals served daily, and so many students with different taste pallets, dietary restrictions, and lifestyle choices, Kwiatkowski says much consideration is taken into account when putting together the menus.
“One of the biggest trends would be that plant-forward or plant-based concepts. That's what I'm charging my executive chefs to do more and more of,” said Kwiatkowski. “People's pallets of today are way more open to the idea of trying different things.”
Kwiatkowski said his team uses different resources when trying to put together menus, including the use of dieticians to help build around individuals with food allergies.=
“I think what we're seeing now is multiple allergens. It's not just wheat or gluten, it's not just dairy, it's multiple,” said Kwiatkowski. “Or, I've chosen to be vegan, but I also have a gluten intolerance. So that becomes a little bit more of a challenge, and again, we want to deliver the best possible product we can to our guests, plain and simple.”
Students that want to reach out with menu suggestions, talk with Kwiatkowski, or one of the many chefs, can do so by going to eatatstate.msu.edu.
Despite the pressures that come with his job title, he said he enjoys taking time to have conversations with students about the whole process.
“Our guests are why we're here, and we need to listen to them,” he said.