​UB goes Hawaiian

Students experience Hawaii at on-campus dining halls


While the wind blew outside foreboding a stormy Buffalo winter, in the UB dining halls Thursday night students could transport themselves – or at least their taste buds – to the islands of Hawaii.

On Nov. 19, UB Campus Dining & Shops (CDS) hosted a Hawaiian/Polynesian night in the dining halls – Crossroads Culinary Center (C3), Governors Dining Hall and Goodyear Dining Hall. It was the second special event night in a larger “Tour Around the World,” which included a Middle Eastern night this past October.

According to Neal Plazio, the executive chef for CDS, while they were able to draw ideas and feedback from UB’s large Middle Eastern population for the Middle Eastern night earlier this semester, learning about Hawaiian and Polynesian food was a little more complicated.

“There wasn’t as big of a [Hawaiian and Polynesian population] to tap into … so the chefs that ran with the idea basically just had to do a lot of research,” Plazio said.

The research proved successful. Students had a variety of Hawaiian and Polynesian delicacies to choose from, including main courses from mashed coconut sweet potatoes and spam and cheese sandwiches to desserts including Polynesian ambrosia and cheese pie.

In tasting these foods, many students tried flavors they had never tasted before. This is one of Rachel Barich’s favorite things to do.

“I love trying new food,” Barich, a freshman exercise science major, said. “Every time I eat dinner [at the dining all] I come back with a huge filled plate and everybody is like ‘oh my god, you eat all that?’”

The case was no different for Barich on Hawaiian night, trying a little bit of almost everything, with various degrees of success. Some of the food she said she would definitely eat again, while some was a little too unusual for her.

“I think some of the stuff I didn’t like because I just wasn’t used to it,” Barich said. “I loved the carrots and the sweet potatoes and the coconut pudding was pretty good too, but the Hawaiian chickpeas had a twang that was definitely different.”

According to Liz Amato, general manager of UB’s C3, this sort of interaction with the food is one of the main reasons for the “Tour Around the World.”

“UB’s so diverse with so many different cultures, we really just wanted to embrace the idea of serving food from different areas around the world and give students the opportunity to try some different foods from somewhere else,” Amato said. “Like maybe someday they’ll be in Hawaii and be like, ‘Hey, I’ve actually tried this before when I was in college.’”

Barich is not the only UB student who craves the opportunity to try new things in the dining hall.

During the student planning meetings for the dining halls, Plazio said this was one of the biggest requests.

“Students are looking for diversity,” Plazio said. “Last year we had a lot of Middle Eastern students ask why we hadn’t had a Middle Eastern-themed night yet and since then we’ve had various Indian and Middle Eastern nights and the reception has been great.”

In the future, UB students might have even more opportunities to try diverse foods. CDS is currently in the planning phase of a global market.

This global market would basically be a permanent “Tour Around the World” in the dining halls and they hope to have this available to students in the next two years.

“One of the other things this ‘Tour Around the World’ event nights are doing is laying the groundwork for this global market with regards to having the international cuisine,” Plazio said. “The global market would have four concepts, one of which we are pretty sure will be Indian, and we still aren’t sure what the other three will be.”

Although it will be some time before this global market will be a UB fixture, students will not have any shortage of worldly cuisine coming their way. CDS’ “Tour Around the World” will return with both an African and a South American night planned to be held this spring.

Sophia McKeone is a features staff writer. Features desk can be reached at features@ubspectrum.com.