Turner Place has recently emerged as the new star player of Dining Services.
The National Association of College and University Food Service (NACUFS) has awarded Dining Services an honorable mention for the Dinner on the Titanic themed event last spring and has also awarded its highest ranking Gold Award for Turner Place in the large school category for Retail Sales-Multiple Concepts/ Marketplace Design.
Turner Place claimed victory over dining facilities at University of Wisconsin and Ball State University, which won silver and bronze in the same category, respectively.
Since the $35 million facility opened last August, the award acknowledges that the eight restaurants in Turner Place have produced quality food and provided good service to students.
John Barrett, assistant director of Turner Place and Virginia Tech alumnus class of ’92, worked in the catering department as a student and remembers what the food was like during his undergraduate year, saying it was not at all like it is now.
“I think that every employee… buys into the program that we want to provide everybody a quality dining experience, where safety is paramount,” said Barrett. “You give good food, good service and people will eat it up.”
Turner Place is not the first dining facility at Virginia Tech to win this award. In 1999, after renovations, West End Market received the Gold Award from NACUFS, as did D2 in 2004.
Criteria for granting the Gold Award involve judging of facility design, merchandising, nutrition and wellness, menu and meal and marketing.
Executive senior chef, Mark Moritz, oversaw all recipe and menu development for the restaurants original to Turner Place, including Atomic Pizzeria, 1872 Fire Grill, Origami, Soup Garden and Dolci e Caffè.
“Here, we care about what we serve our students,” said Moritz. “The habits you’re picking up when you’re eating now are more important than when you were a teenager because these are the ones that are going to stick with you the longest. If you’re accustomed to eating crap, then for the next 15 to 18 years that’s what you’re going to do.”
Both Barrett and Moritz expressed the immensity that was the effort of creating Turner Place.
“The amount of time that myself, as well as my crews, put into developing recipes and [maintaining] the consistency… that was a herculean effort, but it’s what we do and we don’t expect an award for it,” Moritz said.
“[The award] tells us that we’re doing something right,” said Barrett. “It comes from the fact that people put a lot of hard work into it and it shows us that our efforts are not unnoticed.”
The acceptance of the Gold Award will allow Tech Dining Services to compete for the overall Grand Award at the national conference to be held this July in Minneapolis.