How does Epicurean plan the weekly menu?


The Catalyst / Francesca Arbelaez

Everyday, the Epicurean team works diligently to provide NDB with a variety of meals.

Epicurean Group is the company that provides NDB with fresh food every day for lunch and other catering needs. They are devoted to healthy meals and have been at NDB for three years, since the pandemic. Every Sunday the menu for the week is sent out with different meals for breakfast, lunch and snacks in between. But what goes into this very important decision-making process?

“We write seasonal menus utilizing local, fresh, honest, food,” said Epicurean CEO & Founder Mary Clark Bartlett. “We follow the ‘clean 15’ and the ‘dirty dozen’ in our menus. The clean 15 are free of harmful pesticides and sprays, and the dirty dozen, we purchase organic as much as feasible.”

Epicurean takes into account the produce that comes up on each of these two lists when choosing the ingredients for all of their meals. Avocados, corn, onions and asparagus are some of the ‘clean 15’ that show up frequently on the lunch menu. The ‘dirty dozen’ include grapes, pears and celery, which are ingredients that are rare in Epicurean meals.

“When food is in season it is affordable, it tastes the best and it is the most nutritious,” said Bartlett. “Mother Nature is amazing! Eating seasonal foods is where dining should be and we are part of Slow Food International and Slow Food USA.”

Fresh food is collected at the height of the season when it is completely mature. Higher amounts of antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and beta-carotene, are brought on by ideal growth circumstances and greater sunlight. These factors are considered when choosing options for each meal for the seasons. As of now, cabbage, bok choy and carrots are in season and are making appearances in the cafeteria.

As Bartlett mentioned, Epicurean is a member of Slow Food, which supports traditional cooking methods and regional cuisine. They fight against people’s waning interest in the food they consume, where it originates and how food choices affect the environment. As many of the members of the Epicurean staff are Hispanic, NDB sees a lot of Hispanic-influenced meals, as well as a plethora of other cultures.

“Kimi and Jaime keep track of what’s hot and what’s not with the students and always include their favorites on the menu,” said Bartlett.

Kimi Green is the General Manager and Jaime Barillas is the Executive Chef of Epicurean at NDB and they are responsible for what exactly gets put on the menu. A survey goes out every couple of months asking students their opinions about the meals, what should change and what should stay the same. With these three major factors being considered, Epicurean is able to deliver the highest quality of food to the NDB community day in and day out.