I’m not vegan. I am not even vegetarian.
But I was raised in a vegetarian house and I married a vegetarian. I don’t eat a lot of meat, and we don’t cook it at home (I am a fool for sushi – the real deal). Somehow this makes me the resident expert of all things vegan at the university where I work. Recently I have been appointed to take over the gluten free and vegan section of the dining hall where I am the executive chef. I have a culinary arts degree from Johnson and Wales and about thirty-five years of experience cooking in a commercial setting, so wading through the gluten free, vegan, vegetarian world isn’t a culinary problem for me.
The problem I have at hand is a PR one in nature: the gluten free and vegan station has undergone a steady decline in popularity recently. It’s my job to restore its popularity. I plan to offer three different vegan meals each day that are cooked a la minute at the customer’s order, the idea being that I give the perception of personalized service and a more upscale feel to the faltering station. Each meal is prepared and pre-portioned so that the station attendant has but to throw the meal in the oven for about three to four minutes. Once done the meal, which has been assembled upside down in a deep dish pizza pan, is inverted onto a plate. The pizza pan is then removed and – voila! – a premade meal cooked to order. It looks good on paper.
Honestly, I am running short of ideas for fare at the station. I want it to look and feel like fine dining, with the convenience of fast food. But I just haven’t been able to come up with any “WOW!” factor ideas. So I am reaching out to the vegan community to ask for help in providing my vegan customers the best food on campus. What can I do to draw attention to the station? What types of menu items can I offer that will earn the “WOW!”? How can I increase traffic through my faltering station?
Please help me help my vegan customers!