Student feedback leads to Fusion menu changes

Fusion Market in the MacVittie College Union has undergone changes over the past year, including differences in the menu offerings—some of which are being implemented this semester.

Head chef Alec Stanton is the primary coordinator of Fusion’s menu. Stanton said that a lot of the changes to the menu were intended to add variety. “World Kitchen changed the most,” he said. “The Mexican torta is now on Thursdays, and Tuesdays and Fridays are both Indian cuisine.”

World Kitchen offered several different menu items last year—including German bratwurst and chicken and waffles. This semester, it offers the Mexican and Indian selections as well as the New York City Street Plate—which includes street chicken or lamb with no vegetarian option and is served with pita bread and rice. Looking at customer feedback, however, Stanton and Campus Auxiliary Services Director of Culinary Operations executive chef Jonna Anne decided to change the menu again.

“I brought back noodle bowl,” Stanton said. “I anticipated that. It went really well last week and it’s back [Wednesday Oct. 21] and that’ll continue throughout the semester.”

Students are a consideration in the menu-making process. “It represents a combination of truly what the students’ comment cards are and what the trends are in the market,” Anne said. “So we look at both and we try to bring them together.”

“We reach out to Technomic and the National Restaurant Association and then we’re members of the National Association of College and University Food Services,” Stanton added. “So we kind of pull together all the information that we can get our hands on.”

According to its website, Technomic is a research and consulting firm that assists the food service industry.

After determining what the customers want, it is Stanton’s job to develop recipes before “cost[ing] them out” to suppliers. According to Anne, the process of getting a new dish in from suppliers seems complicated, but can take less than a week.

“[The ingredients] are looked over for allergens to make sure we know what’s in there. Then we want to speak to our suppliers to see if there are any specified items that we want to bring—or if there’s a new spice or a new cut of meat—we want to make sure they have the right quality of that,” she said. “So we make sure they either have that in house, or we order it. It gets passed off to our support staff to make the signage, put it on our menu boards and put it in the register. Then once we have everything in house, the chef can make it and out it goes.”

Both Stanton and Anne emphasized that this semester has been a trial and error process for Fusion.

“When we started the New York style street plate three times a week. We saw that maybe that was too many times to have it, which is why we honed it back to just one day a week and having more variety the other days of the week,” Stanton said. “We’re already getting positive feedback from the students on that.”

“[We] certainly have heard from our students about Indian food,” Anne added. “So that’s why it’s increased from one time a week to twice a week.”

While the World Kitchen has changed the most, other sections have also received updates. “We added two new sandwiches [to Clio’s] and there’s a few different toppings we have to offer,” Stanton said. He added that there are new protein options at Asada, including barbacoa and a different type of tofu.

At Lotus, Anne and Stanton agreed that there was less of a need to make changes. “Out of all the stations, Lotus is obviously the busiest,” Stanton said.

“That’s why Lotus was the least changed of all,” Anne added. “If it’s working, why break it?”

Despite the menu changes, however, some students remain unaware of the new options available to them. “I haven’t noticed,” sophomore William Antonelli said. “It seems exactly the same to me.”

According to Stanton and Anne, student feedback is crucial to changes CAS enacts.

“Trial and error is a huge part of the restaurant world,” Anne said. “What we started out with just a month ago, they’ve already made adjustments to. So we make sure that that’s always going. We’re very flexible—not only in Fusion, but in all our restaurants.”