Jester City

Photo Credit: Lex Rojas | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: Forum Editor Amil Malik sat down with Division of Housing and Food Service Executive Chef Robert Mayberry in order to discuss healthy eating on campus. 

Amil Malik: Could you give me some context about the dining establishments on campus? Do they all come under the DHFS umbrella? 

Robert Mayberry: Now actually at least five or six other entities on campus operate food service. I work with the DHFS which means we’re under both UT and the state. Many of the other food service outlets on campus are contracted. The contractors have the advantage of having multiple units. They’re good at managing price and managing profits. Food service is a tricky thing to do because you’re working with food, which is perishable, and you’re working with people, who can sometimes be difficult to manage — if we’re being honest. So the contractors take care of all that. They allow a department that may not want to deal the food and the people to cut that out by contracting it. 

But, in terms of DHFS, that encompasses all the campus living facilities and the food services attached to them. We have Jester City Limits, J2, Cyprus Bend, Kinsolving and Littlefield Patio Cafe. Then we have two kinds of services, the all-you-can-eat and the retail operations. 

Malik: Who decides where DHFS operates and where contractors operate?

Mayberry: I can’t really speak to all the other parts of campus because I’m not exactly sure who runs what. But each of the colleges makes their own decisions as far as the food services attached to them. Athletics has its own contractor, and the student union has a different contractor. I’ve been here for 11 years and that’s how it’s been. But mainly we focus on taking care of the students. Every time we make a decision, we ask what’s the benefit for the students.

Malick: Last time we spoke, you mentioned some of the new DHFS sustainability measures. What sustainability measures does the DHFS  have in place right now?

Mayberry: Right now we have some questions we ask ourselves before we purchase. Some of the criteria we follow, budgetary requirements permitting of course: Is it organic? Is it free trade? Is it socially responsible? For concrete items we question: Is it a recycled product? How does it affect our carbon footprint? 

Our purchasing director has done a really good job of following those criteria. And in the past, 23 percent of our compliance products — food and non-food  — are either sustainable, organic, or recycled. So it’s a pretty good number, and we keep shooting for higher.

Malik: How do you decide the menu in the DHFS facilities?

Mayberry: I’d be happy to talk about that. We have 13 chefs besides myself. I’m the campus executive chef, so my role is really support for all the other chefs and the unit managers. We have six different locations total. Each location has a manager and one to three chefs depending on the size. Menus can be similar in different locations. In a nutshell, the managers and the chefs collaborate to come up with the menus. We have a menu cycle rotate every three weeks in each location, which is a way to increase variety, with different items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So you may have a couple thousand recipes for Jester City Limits that we rotate through. A lot of what we do is we have menus in place, and we’re always reassessing those menus for acceptability. If something’s not moving or if we have a request for a different kind of food, we take that into consideration. The factors we take into consideration are feedback from customers, what’s new and current, what’s locally sourced and sustainable. We think about seasonality — what’s in season. We are always making plans to improve for the following semester.

Malik: How do you manage the nutritional content of the food?

Mayberry: I think people appreciate more and more that delicious food can also be nutritious. Of course there is the exception of the high fat and the high sugar item. But more and more people are very conscious of where their food is coming from and what they’re putting in their body. Our registered dietitian, Lindsay Wilson, has done a great job. We work together when we are planning a menu. We’re in the same room at the same time. It’s an open discussion. There’s a lot of give-and-take and input on each side. We value the input of the registered dietitian, and I think she values the input of the chefs. If she finds something needs attention, we look at it. And when we design menus, we keep a balance in mind. We’re looking for healthy. We minimize the fat and minimize the processed content to keep food as healthy as we can while still having it taste good.  But again it’s a great effort. There’s a lot of input on all sides.

Then, once we land on a menu, that’s just the first step. After we decide a specific menu item, we look at the recipe. Then Leslie goes through the fat content. If there’s too much butter for instance, and we can cut back without sacrificing taste, we do that. Then we try to balance so that we have a vegetarian option, seafood, beef and pork. What else. Oh, yes, Lindsay’s done a great job of putting nutritional content online. We have nutritional content on all the food we serve along with allergen information. 

Malik: Thanks again for talking with me today. One final question: As the executive chef, what advice would you have for students looking to eat healthy within the campus establishments?

Mayberry: I’d say you should eat in the DHFS facilities. Honestly, we have a lot of choices. We reach out to students for feedback on how we’ve done. We have a huge amount of variety. I would recommend a student look online. All our menus are posted online. You’ve got great choices and have the nutritional information as well. We have vegetarian. We have whole grain. And we try to minimize the processed food. Check it out online, research and see what we have to offer.

Mayberry is the executive chef at the UT Division of Housing and Food Services.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

“This semester, I’ll read the required books for every class.” 

“I’m going to go to Gregory five times a week.”

“This semester, I’ll read the required books for every class.” 

“I’m going to go to Gregory five times a week.”

“No more skipping classes.”

 It’s that time of year. A new semester starts, and students head back to campus with resolutions stacked on top of resolutions.

Food-related resolutions are popular during the first few weeks of the year — that is, before exams start and bring along a flood of stress-induced eating. 

It shouldn’t be that hard for you to work on your diet and maintain a healthier lifestyle, even as work begins to pile up, if you make small changes that are easy — and tasty — to maintain.

Simple, occasional switches, such as grabbing an apple instead of a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, will make a “what starts here changes the world” of difference. You’ll still get that addictive crunch but without the finger stains and empty calories.

Other small changes are just as obvious. Cut back on the soda or Frappuccinos and go for water or green tea. Start really looking at the nutritional information of things you are putting in your body. Even if a yogurt label says “all-natural” or “low-fat,” it could be loaded with added sugar — which is by far one of the worst substances for your body.

Ultimately, however, taking control of diet and learning how to cook are the real solutions to maintaining a healthy body. There are other benefits, too — cooking is the perfect way to bond with your friends, roommates or crushes.

Your options are endless: Homemade granola bars are great to snack on while you cruise from class to class; quinoa salads and trays of roasted vegetables are an easy and tasty way to get extra nutrients; and breakfast tacos at any time of the day with homemade roasted salsa and guac are something to tacobout.

Upping your smoothie game is the easiest option of all: time needed (5 minutes), tools required (just a blender), adaptability (endless ingredient combinations) and health (fruit and raw greens). Smoothies are an easy way to ingest loads of veggies and fiber without even realizing it.

A basic smoothie should start with a base of banana and avocado, which is full of healthy fats that keep you full longer — no stomach gurgling in your 11 a.m. class. Next, add a little bit of frozen fruit for sweetness, plus kale or spinach. Unsweetened almond milk is the final component to turn it all into a dreamy treat.

But the real magic comes in just how much you can play off this base to customize something for your tastes. Are you a nut butter addict? Throw in a spoonful. Trying to stave off that cold? Add some fresh ginger and squeeze in the juice of an orange or grapefruit. Want to turn into Gwyneth Paltrow? Add in “superfoods,” such as chia seeds, goji berries, açaí powder or cacao nibs.

With an option of healthy homemade smoothies, there’s no need to impulsively buy those artificially sweetened juices lining the refrigerated shelves of Jester City Market. Students will make and break many resolutions in the upcoming months, but eating better doesn’t have to be one of them. It’s easy to make choices that lead to a smoother semester. Just
press blend.

RECIPE:

Ingredients:

- 1 frozen banana

- 1 small avocado

- 1/2 cup packed spinach or kale

- 1 cup frozen mango chunks

- 1 cup almond milk

Directions:

- Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. If too thick, add water or almond milk a spoonful at a time. Enjoy.

Photo Credit: Ricky Llamas | Daily Texan Staff

Students who frequent the popular dining halls in Jester Dormitory will have to find food elsewhere this July 4.

Jester food services, including Jester City Limits and Jester Second Floor Dining Room, or J2, will be closed from July 4 through July 6 in order to repair a leaking steam valve, which could become worse if left alone. 

These repairs will require steam to be cut off from the food service areas, said Laurie Lentz, communications manager for Facilities Services.

“What this means for the food service folks is that if they don’t have steam, they can’t have hot water,” Lentz said. “And of course they’re required to have hot water.”

Jester food services was originally not scheduled to close until the winter holidays, but the detection of the leak required the dining halls be closed for repair as soon as possible, said Scott Meyer, director of food service for the Division of Housing and Food Service. He said the Independence Day holiday was the best time for the closure. 

“The coming holiday weekend is our slowest time period in the entire summer,” Meyer said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s the best.”

While the dining halls in Jester are shut down for repairs, Cypress Bend, San Jacinto Residence Hall's dining area, will remain open for hungry students. 

“We’re going to make sure everyone gets the meals and nutrition they need,” Meyer said.

However, some students are still discouraged by the looming dining hall closures.

“I’ll probably be going to the drag more often,” advertising junior Lindsay Kelly said. “I know Cypress Bend is open, but there aren’t as many options, so it’s harder to find what you want.“