Marquis Culinary Centre pivots during pandemic

When quarantine hit, executive chef James McFarland and his team at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) weren’t sure what the next few months, let alone the year, would look like.

The culinary services team has had to be creative with their offerings ever since September when they got the green light to re-open. Marquis Culinary Centre now offers mobile ordering for take-out, on-campus delivery and curbside pick-up in voyageur court. They also launched a new extended Kitchen and Pantry menu to residence offering ready-made foods, grocery items and essentials.

“With students in residences it’s important that we make sure fresh and wholesome food is available in a way that was safe for everyone,” said McFarland. “Instead of our usual buffet style, all you can eat meals, we moved to individual priced daily features and made to order menu items.”

House and Quarter, a new Culinary Services location at Grad House, was established to meet this need. Students can also pick up a daily feature and ready-made foods which include soups, stews, pasta and sauces, curries, baked pastas, enchiladas, meal entrees and more.

McFarland and his staff have been working hard to ensure that students and members of the campus and local community have plenty delicious, nutritious and locally sourced food.

“Even in a pandemic our mission remains the same,” said McFarland. “We have had to move fast and certainly think outside the box. I’m confident that as campus starts to open up some of our new solutions and services will remain and we’re going to have a revitalized Marquis Culinary Centre that will provide new, convenient and affordable options for everyone.”

In an effort to keep up with the ever-changing consumer needs in the pandemic, Marquis piloted a meal package service. Their first event on Thanksgiving was such a success that they are planning to continue it with different holidays moving forward.

“I know what a challenge it can be to prepare a Thanksgiving meal can be, whether it’s for 10 or two people,” said McFarland. “We decided to make it easy for people, providing a traditional meal – turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and the lot – at a per plate price. The food was ready to pick up the Saturday before and just needed to be heated up.”

The next dinner box will be available in November featuring a holiday baking package. Watch YOU|Sask or Culinary Service’s Instragam @usaskculinary for more details.

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