Mexican, Mediterranean Options Possibly Headed to MCTC

Bakery Counter (Photo by Teri)

Jagdeep Arora of Groceries and Deli on Harmon has a new project proposed for Spring semester at MCTC. Arora will be debuting a menu of Mexican and Mediterranean fare in the former Culinary Department bakery counter near the Hennepin Ave. entrance to T-building lobby.

When a call for proposals from vendors on campus went out last year, everyone overlooked the bakery counter. Director of Auxiliary Services Gary Westerland personally tracked down Arora and asked him for a proposal for the counter.

Westerland had two critical points in establishing a new food operation: they have to be local, and they have to be flexible.

“He’s [Arora] small enough, everything he’s getting has to be pretty local,” Westerland said at a Culinary Advisory Committee meeting Oct 10. “A really interesting guy, too.”

Mexican food has a proven history of success at MCTC. When the Sodexo cafeteria had offered fajitas and nachos in the past they were the highest sellers, according to Westerland. Student and Three Legged Frog member Michelle Larsen was also in the meeting, and commenting on the Mediterranean food, said “I don’t eat meat, there’s a better chance I could find something to eat there. I don’t buy a lot of things from Sodexo because it’s packaged.” said Larsen. Westerland noted he would push Arora toward environmentally friendly packaging, including recyclable and biodegradable containers and flatware.

The new operation would also be partner to the reusable clamshell program on campus, where students can obtain a clamshell container for five dollars which they return in exchange for a clean one or their money back.

Although Arora’s original proposal included a breakfast menu and sandwiches, Westerland believes it best to start with only the Mexican and Mediterranean options. “We could expand to it if we got some momentum, he said, but he believes it’s a “better idea to start a bit smaller.”

Westerland and MCTC’s focus in dining is to give students more choice. Standard food fare is available in the Sodexo cafeteria, espresso drinks are available at Dunn Bros., and smoothies and deli food are available in the Helland Center bistro by Dunn Bros.

Student Senator Abigail Cabal was also in attendance.

“I really like the idea of adding diversity to the food,” Cabal said.

Cabal went on to suggest a dish for the menu, mujadarra, which is a dish of lentils, caramelized onions, and rice. Westerland expanded on the idea saying saying he could create a student input box where students can submit recipes for favorite dishes that could be rotated in and out of a daily specials menu. “He’s [Arora] willing to try anything,” Westerland said.

Westerland is still seeking student feedback on the proposal, and was on the Student Senate agenda last Wednesday.

Photo of T-building bakery counter by Teri Walker

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