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MIT Dining Introduces New Stations To Offer a Wider Variety of Cuisine

Rita H. Lin -- The Tech
Erica I. Shelton '99 watches as Lucy Carter prepares her food at Pan-Geos, a new food station in Lobdell.

By Sylvia Gonzalez

As returning students begin the new school year, they may notice that MIT dining services is offering a selection of new food items. The changes are intended to diversify the traditional cafeteria menu, according to Aramark district manager Beth Emery.

The biggest change in MIT dining services is the newly trademarked Pan­Geos. The new option includes thirty or forty recipes and emphasizes fresh ingredients. The idea of Pan­Geos, whose name implies foods from across the world, includes various stations across campus.

Last year, Pan­Geos was piloted at Lobdell Food Court, and was called Singing Pan at the time, Emery said. That station was moved this year to Baker House, Emery said. "This year was more aggressive. We're getting better and fresher everyday," said Dave Daniels, operations manager for Aramark.

New food options are varied

Fresh Flavors of Asia is located at both Walker Memorial and Lobdell. Some of the recipes are from such regions as Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India, and Thailand. While the choices are varied, Fresh Flavors of Asia serves rice daily with a choice of noodles or broth on alternating days.

These two main dishes are offered with two protein options, meat or vegetarian. The meat selections include beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp. In order to accommodate vegetarians, certain pans are used exclusively with meat.

At the Granary in Lobdell, three selections are offered daily, including pilaf, flatbread, and potato. The Granary is intended to offer healthy options in Lobdell, said Margaret Derby, Lobdell manager.

Some of the Granary's ingredients are organic, or grown without the use of artificial pesticides. If enough interest is demonstrated, the Granary may use organic ingredients entirely, although that would be more expensive than the current method, Emery said.

Lobdell is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week, but on Fridays it closes at 3 p.m.

Networks has added wraps and flatbread pizza to its menu this year and has also added a new window to view dishes while they are prepared.

Networks is open until 11 p.m., later than Lobdell. Cappuccino, espresso, and latte are now on the menu. and coffee refills are free.

Wraps have also been introduced at the Refresher Course, a station located in Building 52 that is open for continental breakfast and lunch.

Aramark is hoping to replace the cafeteria atmosphere with one closer to a restaurant style. The short-order cooks working at the cook-to-order stations are trained by Aramark chefs with formal culinary experience, Emery said.

Students mixed on changes

The price of an average dish at MIT dining is between four and five dollars. The general sentiment about the prices is favorable. "I think some prices are really good and others aren't, but overall it's pretty good. You get sick of it because you eat it everyday," said Anna E. Park '01.

Others were not necessarily aware of the changes. "Ihaven't heard anything about it," said Peter S. Kurzina '98.

"It may not be home cooking but at least the mashed potatoes are real," said Shaun Neumann '01.

"I think that the things we are doing will change what students view as dining," Daniels said. He said Aramark's desire is to make the food "closer to what you're going to get at homeŠ the next best thing."