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Cafeteria Food

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
If you were subject to cafeteria food, what would you be impressed to see? Keep in mind a $3-4 price range.

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #2 of 22
Bangers and mash!!!!! and a celler drawn newki!!!!
:D
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Now, now o Caped One, I am not sure cornmeal-laden sausages are what I had in mind...:p Don't make me come up north and squeeze menu ideas out of you... I'll do it, ya' know!! And I'll bring the kids to wreck your house while I'm there!:eek:

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #4 of 22
* Really good quality lasagna -- preferably vegetarian -- with al dente noodles that are not dried out on top but not gloppy with cheap mozz either.
* Juicy, well-peppered fried chicken.
* Pad thai, so long as it didn't dry out.
* Just about anything -- even a well-flavored, veg-packed meatloaf -- without pasty gravy with a skin on top.
* CRISP, FRESH VEGETABLES, including some more "unusual" ones like chard, broccoli rabe, and ROAST BEET SALAD with red onions in vinaigrette ;) or scalloped tomatoes made only with fresh, in-season tomatoes, and not swimming in watery juice.
* Creamed spinach, with real cream, and nutmeg, and a hint of garlic; or, spinach casserole with jalapeno cheese like Laurie Colwin talks about (it is sooooooo good!)
* Made-from-scratch chicken or lamb curry, with real basmati rice.
* Mainly, FRESH SEASONAL food. Not out of a Sysco freezer pack.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #5 of 22
How about chicken Schnitzel with spatzel or german potato salad.

Also, I made chicken pot pies for family meal the other day. Everyone loved them.

A few others:
Beer braised pork "pot roast".
Nicoise Salad (hey canned tuna is cheap, and still the best for nicoise-forget the fresh stuff!)
For the veg-heads: Fresh Ratatouille over cinnamon scented couscous. Or a Grilled veg. Wellington
After making the chicken schnitzel with the breasts you have legs & thighs left over for things like Spicy Chicken Empanadas with Black Bean Sauce and Homemade crema, or Braised chicken over sage dumplings.
Pan-seared foie gras over caramelized shallot mashed potatoes with port syrup (ok, so it is over budget, but you did ask what we would like to see!!!:D :D :D
post #6 of 22
Who are you cookin' for? I mean, who is your audience?
RF
"'If I watch out for rocks
With my eyes straight ahead,
I'll keep out of trouble
Forever,' I said."
Dr. Seuss, "I Had Trouble in getting to Solla Sollew"
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"'If I watch out for rocks
With my eyes straight ahead,
I'll keep out of trouble
Forever,' I said."
Dr. Seuss, "I Had Trouble in getting to Solla Sollew"
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post #7 of 22
When I think of cafeteria I think of that chopped sirloin steak with the brown gravy and onions on top of mashed potatoes with a veggie on the side and a yeast roll. Yum. And dont forget a good piece of pie for dessert and a dish of orange jello.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. ~~Ralph Waldo Emerson
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What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. ~~Ralph Waldo Emerson
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post #8 of 22
I second meatloaf, but it must have ketchup "sauce" baked on top!!!
post #9 of 22
Try burritos with various meat, beans and salsa fillings like:

chicken, black bean, salsa verde and pepper jack

shredded beef, pinto beans, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo and cheddar

spicy garbanzo beans, grilled vegetables, queso blanco, corn salsa and jack

These are easy to prep a bunch ahead and heat up in the oven or steamer
(microwave isn't bad either if neccesary)

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #10 of 22
Remember the school cafetaria lunch lady and those grilled cheese sandwhiches with the velveeta soaked in whirl? NOT THAT! :) I think $3-4 is low, but if you're a subsidized cafeteria it's totally within reach. Most cafeteria's I've been to lack ethnic offerings and are very poor in the vegetarian department. If I ran a cafetaria in a tech center, the menu would look something like this:

Variety of sushi with a good mix of vegetarian items.

Falafel, chicken shawarma, hummus and baba ghanouj.

Curries from allover the world. All served with GOOD rice, not that stuff from Uncle you know who.

Good bread with an assortment of pates and cheeses.

A good "big wok" station with all kinds off noodles and rice dishes.

And the other standard grille faire like grilled chicken sandwiches, burgers, etc.

Kuan
post #11 of 22
Don't forget a soup station.:lips:

And butterscotch puddin'.
post #12 of 22
Kuan, my dear - You can do all of that for $3-4? Sushi? pate??

Anyone remember the mysterious SOS stuff they served in school over mashed potatoes?

I'd love to see wonderful soups, with crusty bread. (Whoops - sorry, Momoreg, didn't see your post at first - share with me?!)
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post #13 of 22
Many cafeterias are subsidized, that is to say, they're located inside large corporations who absorb many of the costs associated with such a large facility. So you can get by with slightly lower margins on your food. Some cafeterias may run food costs up to 40%.

The guy who owns the wine store around the corner from my house gets 60% straight profit from his pates. He sells them from $10-$15 per pound. A lunch serving would be 1/4 pound max.

You can make a killing on sushi too. Those 31/35 shrimp are like a quarter each. Coupla shrimp, egg, tuna, octopus, and you're right in the ballpark. Our college cafeteria used to do sushi rolls for $1.50 apiece. But this was 10 years ago. Might be more now :)

Kuan
post #14 of 22

Is the Cafeteria Subsidized?

Subsidizing would certainly help broaden the culinary horizons of a place that's cooking mass quantities and looking for imagination at $3-4 a pop! I worked for a large brokerage firm that subsidized their cafeteria and had excellent food. I then went to another firm that didn't subsidize their cafeteria (they ripped off their employees so many ways - their slogan should have been "we earn our money the old fashioned way, we squeeze it out of the employees") and charged restaurant prices for cafeteria food. I wound up bringing my lunch every day.

Casserole dishes leap out, such as:

* Chicken Enchilada (casserole style)

* Eggplant Parmagiana

* Chicken Parmagiana

* Lasagna (cheese or veggie)

* Shepherd's Pie

* Pot pie - a chicken-based pie with dollops of biscuit dough on top

* Swedish meatballs

Of course, a killer soup is a must in a cafeteria. Don't fall into the "iceberg" lettuce trap either, it's worth a little more money to have good greens such as romaine, leaf, red leaf, or a mix. Iceberg lettuce has absolutely no taste and for some reason, packaged iceberg is riddled with that purple cabbage people wind up picking out.

Desserts...Rice Pudding, Chocolate Pudding, Bread and/or Cabinet Pudding, cobblers and cakes with icings usually sell.
Food is sex for the stomach.
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Food is sex for the stomach.
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post #15 of 22

Forgot one...

Wrap sandwiches with either chips, slaw or potato salad on the side (only great ingredients...no boloney!).

And don't forget chili!
Food is sex for the stomach.
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Food is sex for the stomach.
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post #16 of 22
Yes! REAL ingredients. I think that sums it up.

Kuan
post #17 of 22
Good thing that last post was pointless. You guys pushed it to second page oblivion :)

Kuan
post #18 of 22
Kuan, as you could see from my early response, it's not at all pointless! The thing that can be so awful about cafeteria stuff is that it ISN'T "real" -- that is, it's been processed, and cooked, and frozen, and reheated etc. so much, it's not recognizable as FOOD anymore. The only time I worked in a cafeteria (actually worked out of it, not anything to do with the feeding), they made stuff in small batches and tried to keep it fresh looking. Even so, because so much of it was frozen Sysco to begin with, it was not all that appetizing. I cannot imagine any reason why someone would use a lot of that stuff, when it only takes a little more staff time and training to use fresh food.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #19 of 22
BBQ with slaw and gooooood rolls
bowls of Thai or Veitnamese noodles...worth a repeat.
Various salads, grains with veg, again hummos , baba ganoush, tapenade
Flat bread pizzas
Yogurt bar.....granola, fruits, dried fruits
Breads make or break a meal....good breads
Cajun food can be inexspensive...jambayla, Gumbo, etouffee, creole
I'm making egg roulade with wild shroom duxelle for a budget meal tomorrow....
Brunchy stuff is ok too for lunch....Fritata, Quiche, omelets
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #20 of 22
My wife works in a building which is very, I mean VERY diverse. There are a lot of vegetarians there who can't stomach the "vegetarian" food at the cafeteria. Most days it's steamed frozen veggies and Uncle Ben's for their "veggie lunch special" or steamed frozen veggie "wrap." It's either that or a salad, and even the stupid dressings are all right out of a can.

I'm digressing here a bit, but this brings to mind how bad some cafeterias can be. Some vegetarians are very sensitive to animal products. They can smell animal protein in their food if it was cooked on the same grill as a hamburger. Anyway, one time these guys were in a rush and decided to strain the bacon out of the tomato soup and call it vegetarian. Man! Was that a bad move. They received so many complaints that the company decided to not renew the contract for the next year.

Back on track a bit; I was just kidding about my post being pointless. It's beyond me why people serve fried chicken foam patty sandwiches instead of a good grilled chicken breast, or why they buy those tvp burgers instead of just plain old good ground beef.

Kuan
post #21 of 22
Vol au vent. Every Wenesday at school. It was the busiest day.
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
Wow! What a response!! Thanks for the input...! Our 'audience' is a telephone call-center feeding about 650 people, breakfast & lunch. And, yes, we have a subsidy (our cost-overruns are made up by the client- within reason). Small kitchen and limited equipment is a concern. Other than that, we are really looking to shine in this new operation.
The major aspect of all the posts that seems to run common, is the 'real' food requirement. I think we often get lost in cutting corners (i.e. Sysco everything) to save time/money and we loose focus on the food. I am completing the menus this weekend, so I will be sure to post the finished product, reflecting the input from all of you.
Thanks for your input. It is a real treasure to have a group of people willing to share their thougths so freely. Thanks, gang!
-Jim

P.S. One of the pieces of equipment we are installing is an impinger (conveyor) belt oven. Although I am not fond of the pizza that actually comes from these fellows, there are other items that emerge successfully. Any thoughts on impinger oven recipes/items?

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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