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The college gourmet

(article, Ashley Griffin Gartland)

If you're not a current college student, it's likely that your memories of university fare include gray meat and wilted salad. 

Plenty of college campuses still specialize in such offerings, of course. But some students are doing more than just turning up their noses; they're using their disgust as a catalyst for gourmet change. 

As reported recently in the New York Times, last year Duke University student Bryan Zupon took his food in his hands and opened an underground restaurant specializing in molecular gastronomy called Z Kitchen. The location? His dorm room. 

Later, Zupon moved to a bigger campus apartment and was soon offering such concoctions as slow-cooked eggs with truffle-flecked Sottocenere cheese, chanterelle mushrooms pickled in rice-wine vinegar, and chai-flavored ice cream with miso-sesame chocolate, powdered peach, and pineapple. 

Fortunately for all the students returning to campuses this fall, Zupon isn’t the only individual trying to improve college cuisine. According to National Public Radio, food service programs at Wheaton College in Illinois, Virgina Tech in Virginia, and Bowdoin College in Maine are turning their focus to educating college palates and increasing the amount of good food available to student bodies.  

Where Wheaton’s food service offers gourmet cuisine (roasted mango chicken with oven-roasted sweet potatoes), Bowdoin creates menus from its students' own family recipes. And with the help of offerings like gourmet gumbo and wood-fired pizzas, Virginia Tech climbed to third place in the food category on the Princeton Review’s Best 366 Colleges. 

After all, there’s nothing like a little lobster in cream sauce to help a midnight study session along.

*Also on Culinate: A look at food-focused campus activism.