CU cuisine initiatives receive national 'Best of Show' award from food service magazine

A kitchen bustling with chefs trained in knife skills and soup making, preparing foods to perfection in large rotisseries and using sous vide -- a French technique for gently cooking vacuum-packed edibles in a water bath -- could easily be part of the famous Cordon Bleu culinary institute as it is Housing and Dining Services at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Operating 13 venues on campus including eateries that extend far beyond French cuisine in their international scope, Dining Services' efforts in recent years have been firmly planted in the development of facilities, the cultivation of culinary talent and culture, and the broadening of operational efficiencies.

Success on these fronts has earned it the top honor of "Best of Show" from Food Management magazine in the publication's 2011 "Best Concept" competition.

The magazine also gave CU-Boulder's year-old Center for Community building the "Best New Facility" award. The Center for Community provides its patrons not only with food, but also with international and cultural experiences in a sustainably built space styled after a street market. The 900-seat dining hall offers freshly prepared fare at nine micro-restaurants including Asian, Italian, halal and kosher-compliant dishes.

"Dining Services acknowledges the opportunity we have to connect with our guests through quality service and unique offerings," said Dining Services Director Amy Beckstrom. "We're very proud of these accolades from Food Management, which recognize the commitment of our staff to elevate university food service for our community."

Winners of the "Best Concept" awards are featured in the August issue of Food Management and will be honored at the publication's annual IDEAS Conference in late September in Grapevine, Texas.

Food Management magazine is a national publication for the noncommercial food service industry. Its annual "Best Concept" contest recognizes a variety of dining operations for achievement and innovation in the field including facility design, menu innovation, wellness initiatives, special event planning and convenience retailing. Its editorial staff members serve as the judges.

Winners this year range from a sit-down restaurant at The Ohio State University Medical Center that allows patients -- some of whom struggle with appetite -- to dine in a comfortable, communal atmosphere, to a meal station at the U.S. House of Representatives cafeteria designed for frugal eaters.

CU-Boulder Dining Services dishes out about 2.5 million meals per year to students, faculty, staff, community members and visitors. It has implemented a number of initiatives in recent years that have garnered praise from Food Management and other publications and organizations.

Dining Services has developed and implemented a nationally recognized labeling program that identifies eight top food allergens -- eggs, dairy, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, soy and wheat -- and gluten in the menu items served at its venues. The program is called the A9 Allergen Project.

In July 2010, Dining Services was one of eight national recipients and the only university food service program to receive an Achievement of Excellence award from the American Culinary Federation. Reflected in this award is Dining Services' ongoing commitment to culinary development, providing training and support for its chefs to connect with diners through expertly crafted authentic foods, said Beckstrom.

For more information on Food Management magazine's "Best Concept" awards and the 2011 winners visit food-management.com/news_briefs/best_concepts_colorado0629/index.html.

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