Salads by Design wins food service award

Kate Snyder and Kate Snyder

Anyone ordering a salad at Commons Marketplace’s Salads by Design often needs to decide between favorite toppings, lettuce and dressing. But for the National Association of College and University Food Service, choosing the best was no toss up. This year was NACUFS’s 7th annual ‘Best in the Business’ competition. A panel of judges evaluated different university dining programs across the U.S. in four categories. Salads by Design won the Food Service Application. ‘This is the first year Salads by Design is up and running,’ said Sara Meyer, the marketing and advertising coordinator of dining services. ‘It won its first year.’ According to a press release from dining services, the contest recognized ‘leadership in product mix, marketing, layout and design, food service applications and customer service innovations.’ ‘It is a great privilege to be recognized by our peers and industry leaders,’ Associate Director of Dining Services Daria Blachowski-Dreyer also said in the press release. The University has submitted applications for the awards before, and others were submitted this year, but only the salads came out on top. ‘It’s a very prestigious award that’s been going on for some time,’ Meyer said. Addie Stephens, a student manager at Commons, said the program was one of its best, especially among professors and staff on campus. ‘I think it’s just a different option,’ she said. ‘I know the vegetarians like it a lot.’ Freshman Stefani Smithburger has a salad every day. ‘It’s healthy food, but it doesn’t take that long,’ she said. ‘Usually the line’s not that long.’ All last summer, Stephens said employees sampled different flavor variations to find the tastiest recipe combinations. For now, although they settled on Asian, Greek, southwest, orchard and Italian as the featured salads, customers always have the option to choose their own ingredients. But freshman Matt Romito recommends they order one on the list. He didn’t expect some of the ingredients to work so well together. ‘I was surprised at how well the guacamole goes with the southwest,’ he said. Before Romito started working for Commons in October, he rarely ate salads. Now he offers his own recommendations to customers and creates his own recipes. But Romito said the southwest recipe remains the most popular. ‘Gotta try the southwest,’ he said. And immediately after he said that, sophomore Martina Chatmon walked up and ordered one. ‘I come here like four times a week,’ she said. ‘I think it’s one of the best things on campus. You can choose what you want.’ Chatmon switches it up sometimes between southwest and Italian, but she said designing her own salad beats getting one pre-made with flavors she might not like.