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March 19, 2013
By Stephany Kirby
University of Nevada, Reno Residential Life, Housing, and Food Services will give a tour of its dining facilities as the host of the 2013 National Association of College & University Food Services Conference. The three-day event, March 21-23, will include a culinary challenge, an industry showcase and a breakfast with a Mark Twain impersonator at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino, the host hotel for the conference.
The National Association of College & University Food Services supports the college and university food-service industry by providing members with the programs and resources they need to succeed, including best practices and professional networking. Each year, the organization holds conferences in six different regions, and this is the first year the University of Nevada, Reno will host the Pacific and Continental Regional Conference.
Conference attendees will receive a tour of the University's Downunder Café, catering operation, and retail outlet, including The Overlook, where they will have lunch before heading to Great Basin Brewery for a lesson in beer brewing. The evening of the first day, attendees will hear from Chef Jeff Henderson, creator of The Chef Jeff Project and the executive chef of Café Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Day two will begin with the Culinary Challenge, a cooking competition amongst 14 chefs in the region. The winners of the Pacific and Continental Region Culinary Challenges will go on to compete nationally against other regional winners. Additionally, 15 interest sessions on different topics will be held throughout the day at the hotel.
The final day will begin with breakfast with McAvoy Layne, a Mark Twain impressionist, and then include an industry showcase and guest speaker Meagan Johnson, "Generational Humorist," and will conclude with a dinner at the Harrah's Automobile Museum.
The University's Downunder Café was nationally recognized last year for its efforts to become more environmentally sustainable. Staff and faculty with the University of Nevada, Reno's Department of Residential Life, Housing and Food Services are looking forward to showing attendees the many ways the University conserves and saves its resources and strives to be more efficient for students and the environment.
"We really want to cut down the amount of food that is wasted," said Russ Meyer, associate director for Housing Operations and Dining Services. "We have looked at our production and service systems, from the time the food is ordered to the time a student puts their plate away in the dish room. In the last few years, we have eliminated trays in the dining facility, so students do not have room to take more food than they can eat. We make sure food is cooked in small batches so we don't prepare more than is needed."
The Department of Residential Life, Housing and Food Services also sends waste to Bently Biofuels, located in Northern Nevada, and food that is not eaten goes into a Wet System Food Digester to take care of organic waste. Through these processes, they are sending less waste to the landfill, Meyer said.
This summer, Housing and Food Services plans to change its menu with the intention of offering more options for individuals with food allergies or sensitivities. They are also discussing making changes to the Northside Café in the Fitzgerald Student Services building, which will include adding new food options.
Stephany Kirby is a student writer for University Media Relations.