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Dining halls add Korean food

Lisa Slomka | Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Notre Dame students looking to expand their culinary horizons can now try a taste of Korean cuisine in the dining hall.

Following the successful introduction of specialty days like Mediterranean night and the Pho soup bar, Notre Dame Food Services (NDFS) launched a new line of specialty foods that features authentic Korean dishes. North Dining Hall kicked off the new concept in January and South Dining Hall followed suit last week. The dishes are served on a 12-day rotating schedule in both dining halls.

Marc Poklinkowski, general manager of South Dining Hall, said the concept for the new line came from positive student reception to other specialty meals.

“The basis of this came from students originally suggesting that we have things like Indian day and Mediterranean day,” he said.

NDFS considers input from two yearly surveys in launching new food lines, Poklinkowski said.

“They’re usually right after each of the breaks,” he said. “When we looked back at what students had suggested we saw a lot of students asking why we didn’t have more ethnic foods, which is what led to the Mediterranean and Indian cuisine days.”

Poklinkowski said rather than schedule these specialty meals more often, NDFS decided to explore options for a new type of cuisine to serve to students.

“With both of those days being such big hits, we realized that we didn’t want to repeat them, otherwise they’d get boring,” he said. “We decided to try and do something else.”

Poklinkowski said the idea for Korean cuisine came from NDFS executive chef Don Miller.

“After I asked him for ideas, he asked if I’d ever thought about Korean food,” he said. “He said it’s really picking up and getting popular.”

Poklinkowski said Miller met with various Korean students on campus to discuss what dishes should be offered and how to authentically prepare them. Miller then prepared a presentation of traditional cuisine.

“He put together a show for us [with] about eight different recipes. He had the kimchi there, these two cold salads that we now use, and he also did the crepes for us,” Poklinkowski said. “From there we got a kind of good idea of how we could adapt it to our dining halls.”

Tina Aalfs Baker, operations manager of North Dining Hall, said the new offerings may not appeal to all palates.

“It’s a matter of personal taste and preference. For some guests, it may not be their cup of tea,” she said. “For others, it is a change of scenery, something new to try.”

Poklinkowski said the new dishes have been received well at South Dining Hall.

“The first day went really well,” he said. “We did I believe close to 500 crepes at lunch and over 1,200 crepes at dinner. We’re always glad whenever something’s that popular when we start off.”

Poklinkowski said the introduction of Korean day is not the only change coming to the dining halls. During Lent, South Dining Hall is will prepare new menu items including a new Seafood Newburg dish and a make-your-own baked potato bar in the Pan-American section, he said.

“We never want to see students making rounds around the food options a few times without finding anything to eat,” he said. “We’re looking to give them more options.”