Add your recipe to the Gerber menu


Bri Berndt

Chef Katie Kipper begins cleaning up on April 8 at Gerber Center for Student Life.

Kayla Palliser

From salads to Bang Bang Chicken, the Gerber Dining Hall menu is extensive. But the menu isn’t set in stone. Students are able to verbally request new menu items at any of the stations. If a request is reasonable, there’s a good chance the chefs will try that recipe out in the dining hall.

“If somebody makes a request, if it’s doable, we’re always willing to try it,” Martin Fleetwood, managing chef in Gerber, said. What makes a recipe “doable” comes down to the number and availability of ingredients, the time it takes to cook, cost-effectiveness and popularity of the dish.

Some staples of the menu came about as a result of requests. “The Imperial Chicken was a student recipe before I even started here, and I’ve been here 13 years,” Fleetwood said. “We used to call it Tim’s Imperial Chicken, so his name must have been Tim.” Another dish, Bulgogi Pork, is on the menu because of a student request. Student favorites, like Bang Bang Chicken, returned to the menu by popular demand.

Fleetwood is responsible for changing the dining hall menus. “I change some every semester. Then, at the end of the year, I do the biggest change,” Fleetwood said. “It’s probably 40-50 percent new the following year.”

Although the dining hall has taken requests for more than a decade, many students are unaware that they can ask chefs to consider student recipes. More students are more aware of “Augie Treats,” where guardians can request foods like pizza, cookies and cupcakes and a student can pick up the order from the dining hall.

Sophomore Caitlin Campbell didn’t know about student requests and said she would consider making a request herself in the future. She also considers requesting that certain dishes be made more frequently, like Chicken Pad Thai. “It’s helpful to know that you can submit requests. I wish they advertised that more,” Campbell said.

Even student workers in the dining hall are not well-informed about the possibility for student innovation in the kitchens. Sophomore Allie Anderson has worked in the dining hall for almost two years. She was unaware that students were able to submit requests and has never seen it happen while she was working. She only works in Global Fusion, which, according to Fleetwood, is the most popular station to submit requests. 

Anderson said student frustrations with the current menu are often taken out on the chefs and student workers. The menu is on a four-week rotation, where the stations make the same dishes every four weeks. “A lot of people get really upset with us when we have the same things over and over again,” Anderson said. “But it’s not even the chefs who get to pick that.”

Advertising students’ abilities to request dishes to the menu may offer frustrated students a way to voice what they want without getting upset at staff members. “It might make people feel like they have more of a say, so then, they would be less rude,” Anderson said.

So, if you miss a special recipe from home or discover something amazing during your study-abroad, talk to the station chefs and you might just see it added to the menu.