Chef Profile: University of Portland

Red Plate Foods Logo                                                         University of Portland Logo

 University of Portland Quad with Red Plate Foods and University of Portland logos


Chef Joe at University of Portland shares insight: How Bon Appetit provides for their special diet students

Q: In what ways does your foodservice team care for your special diet students? What measures do you take to ensure safety?

A: Here at the University of Portland, Bon Appetit goes above and beyond to make sure all students and faculty who have dietary restrictions are taken care of. Our café, restaurant, catering and concessions work together to ensure that we have menu quality options that can cater to all dietary needs. Our café offers options at all stations for those who may be vegan or vegetarian, have gluten sensitivity or maybe can't have sesame or soy. We create menus and signage that will indicate all ingredients and allergies so the student or faculty member can make educated decisions. Our restaurant offers vegan, vegetarian, soy free, made without gluten options and if other dietary restrictions need to be addressed, we are more then happy to accommodate. Catering and concessions work with these same guidelines.  We will cater to anyone to the best of our ability.  All of our staff must go through an online allergy training, as well as food safety and sanitation course in addition to having an Oregon's food handlers card of being ServSafe Certified.

Bon Appetit wants to create an environment where all are welcome to dine with us.


Q: Do you see a need for more allergen free food options in the C&U foodservice industry?

A: I absolutely see a need for allergen free food. We are in the hospitality industry which at it's very core means to be hospitable to everyone who chooses to dine with us.  Why would you not want to include everyone, to make all your guests feel like you are taking care of them. I challenge my team to make quality food  but really push for them to create a memory for someone. Can my chefs have someone who enjoys meat, love a vegan meal?  Can my chefs make a pizza that is made without gluten better then a pizza that is made with gluten? As food allergies become more and more prevalent in our society, it's up to us to ensure we are creating memories for everyone!


Q: Do you have a favorite special diet menu item that you serve at your dining hall?

A: I currently don't have a favorite dietary restriction  to cater to, but I love when we have a guest come up to me and say how wonderful they think our food is, or they didn't think a particular menu item was going to be good and then it blew their mind. I thoroughly enjoy when someone thanks us for catering to their dietary needs.

 That's what I'm striving for.


Q: Do you have any advise for C&U foodservice teams that have struggled to provide their students with inclusive options?

A: My advice is do whatever it takes to ensure you can make all of your guests feel comfortable in your food outlets. Cater to everyone's needs and not just out of a moral choice, it makes sense financially too. Create programs that include anyone who may be suffering from any food allergy. They probably just want to feel included.