The Chef's Table: Bringing Local Produce to the Table

College can be busy, between going to class, working, homework, and trying to fit in a social life. Most college students leave out cooking and focusing on having a healthy diet, which leads to the term “freshman 15.”

Photo taken by Hannah Haydock

Photo taken by Hannah Haydock

A partnership between Healthy IU, the Office of Sustainability, and Chartwells is working to make it easier for college students to incorporate a healthier diet and do more home cooking.

“The Chef’s Table is part of the larger produce market we do once a month at the Campus Center,” Healthy IU dietician Steven Lalevich said. “It’s typically the third Thursday of each month.”

The produce market offers fresh produce at a low price, so it is cost efficient for students, employees, and the community.

“During the summer months we offer produce from the campus gardens, otherwise we try to get as much locally sourced produce as possible,” Lalevich said.

The Chef’s Table features a meal that includes some of the produce options available as well as a demonstration and recipe provided by the chef.

“When we partnered with the sustainability office for the produce markets, we thought it would be a good idea to also include the Chef’s Table,” chef Roger Disher said.

Photo taken by Hannah Haydock

Photo taken by Hannah Haydock

At the most recent Chef’s Table, April 20, Disher prepared Indian spiced pita sandwich.

“Everything that we have that goes on the sandwich aside from the pita and the chicken itself, but the romaine, cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, and yogurt we are selling here at the produce market,” Disher said.

Other dishes sometimes include spring salads and pasta dishes. Dishes are aimed to be fresh to go along with the produce market.

This is also an opportunity for student to volunteer. They help at the actual event as well as in the IUPUI gardens.

“One of the main goals of the event is to inspire college students to pursue a healthier lifestyle,” Lalevich said. “Sometimes in the college years, students may not be experiencing a bit of cooking themselves, so we’re trying to make it easier for them.”

Students may not have a way to get to the grocery store or a way to get fresh produce. Having it on campus makes is easily accessible and more cost efficient to students.

“My role as the Healthy IU dietician is to help employees lead healthier lives and eat healthier food,” Lalevich said. “I’m here to answer any questions they have about nutrition. We also offer free nutrition counselling for employees through me.”

Each time the Chef’s Table comes to campus, the third Thursday of every month from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., people can come and try different recipes and purchase the produce to cook the food themselves at home. The market does not take place during holidays and school breaks.

“We have the produce market once a month but we try to do one or two more of the Chef’s Table during the month as well as the special events we do over at the Tower dining,” Disher said.

Photo taken by Hannah Haydock

Photo taken by Hannah Haydock

Healthy IU covers all of the IU campuses, there are some similar produce markets at some of the other campuses.

“At the other campuses, some of the other events aren’t happening as frequently or at the scale they are happening here,” Lalevich said. “IUPUI is doing a great job of leading the way and showing other campuses how to do the successfully.”