UGA’s Food Services wins national award

UGA's Food Services wins national award for Broadway-themed dinner

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia’s Food Services received the top prize for a residence hall theme dinner from the National Association of Colleges and University Food Services on July 11.

UGA Food Services won both a gold and a national Loyal E. Horton Dining Award for its Jan. 22 “Spotlight on Broadway” dinner. The dinner was judged on menu selection, merchandising and presentation, marketing and overall impression-including the dinner’s “wow factor.”

“It’s significant for us because it’s a benchmark program,” said J. Michael Floyd, executive director of food services. “We use this program to constantly upgrade our services and see what we can do better for our customers. The national recognition is great, but the event is really for our customers.”

Served in all four dining halls, the “Spotlight on Broadway” dinner featured foods inspired by renowned New York City restaurants, indoor and outdoor décor and live entertainment.

The dining halls were decorated with outdoor marquees announcing the dinner. Inside were ticket counters, show posters and floor-to-ceiling displays reminiscent of Phantom of the Opera.

The menu included Oysters Rockefeller from Garrick, spinach gratin from Savoy Restaurant, pistachio cannoli from Rocco’s Pastry Shop and cheesecake bars with minted blueberries from Blue Hill Restaurant.

Athens Creative Theatre provided live vignettes from Broadway musicals, including Grease, Hairspray, Oklahoma and Wicked, during the dinner.

Bryan Varin, cafeteria manager at Snelling Dining Commons, spearheaded the project along with Snelling Dining Commons’ management. The idea for the dinner was a group effort, Varin said.

He said a Broadway dinner sounded like it would be fun for the students. Broadway hadn’t been done before and sounded like a good option, especially since entertainment is a major factor.

“Not only do we want to provide delicious food that we don’t serve everyday, we want to go above and beyond to really provide something memorable for the students,” Varin said.

In the dining halls, theme dinners are held about every four weeks throughout the school year, with new concepts debuting in the spring.

Planning, from dessert ingredients to center pieces, is already under way for the next round of dinners, which will include a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” dinner on Aug. 27, a “Five Star” dinner on Oct. 8, “Bulldog Bite” Homecoming dinner on Nov. 4, “Café Cretaceous” dinner on Jan. 28 and “Keep on Truckin'” dinner on March 25.

In addition to the national grand prize and the gold award, food services also won a bronze award for its retail outlet, The Red Clay Café. The award judged the diner on menu, marketing, food preparation and café design.

For its standard residence hall menu, food services won an honorable mention in the Residence Hall Dining Multiple Outlets/Concepts category.

Food services has won a total of 63 national Loyal E. Horton awards since 1986.