How to feel more at home in the Bengal Kitchen

Danielle Graham and Shavonne Pucula

Everyone loves their family recipes and home-cooked meals. SUNY Buffalo State students however have not been feeling that good food energy in the Bengal Kitchen — and there are ways to change that and bring your food to the kitchen.

The Record was recently able to meet with Glen Bucello, resident district manager of Chartwells, which runs the school’s food service. Bucello answered a few questions pertaining to the authenticity in the kitchen and what they are working on and planning to do in the future.

The Bengal Kitchen tries it’s best to cater to everyone’s satisfaction. The difficulty is that there are so many cultures. For example, one year the winner of the Recipes from Home contest made African cuisine. There were students from Nigeria who loved it and said that that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be made — while students from Ghana fell on the opposite side and felt like the cuisine was nothing like how it’s supposed to be.

Recipes from Home contest:

The Bengal Kitchen invites students and different organizations to submit different recipes to USG. Then there’s a competition and the winning recipe goes onto the menu cycle and the organization is highlighted.

The contestant does not necessarily have to be in a USG organization to make it to the menu. Buffalo State students can make recommendations directly to Bucello. If approved, he would review the kitchen’s ability to execute it on their scale and proceed to add the recipe to the menu.

Ways to voice your feedback and recommendations:

The food service committee is open to anyone. One issue that came up recently is a student felt like there weren’t enough spices in the food while another felt that there was too much. The Bengal Kitchen is currently working on including a spice rack system so students can add their desired spices in any amount. The meetings start back up in the spring with the new semester where Bucello will be meeting with the RA advisory board.

Bucello encourages all students to talk to him directly about all the changes and recommendations you would like to make in the kitchen. He believes that the best way to establish a decent dining experience is hearing the voice of the students.

On the dine on-campus website there is a feedback section that goes directly to Bucello and his management team. There are posters around the dining area with a text to chat phone number that goes directly to him as well, and his email ([email protected]) are all great ways where you can voice your opinions, suggestions and concerns.

During the semester, Bucello and his team went around asking students to fill out their annual surveys. They went over what the students had to say and in the spring they are bringing about focus groups based on the feedback from the surveys. In addition to the annual survey, his team members are required to get 10 interactions each day which estimates to about 18,000 students inputting their feedback per year allowing Bucello to see what’s going on on a day-to-day basis.

What is the kitchen doing to improve students’ dining experience?:

Earlier this month there was a cook-off held in Neumann Hall where the whole Bengal Kitchen crew supplied all of the requested ingredients and equipment. Four groups went against each other and cooked their home recipes until there was a winner.

The next step for the Kitchen was to figure out how to recreate that recipe on a mass production level in the kitchen.

A very important thing that the Kitchen has to follow is the recipes. When in reference to the calorie count, fat content, ingredients … etc. The cooks make sure that the food matches what’s on the website. Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies and the kitchen wants to make sure that students are well informed when making their food choices. If you want to let the kitchen know of your food allergy click here and “don’t be shy”

It was stated that the Kitchen highlights global cuisines each month. The Kitchen pulls out their cultural foods and sticks to recipes that appeal to a larger group of students. The only time the chefs go off-book is when a specific event is taking place.

In October, every Wednesday they featured, Love your Chef, where they allow the chefs to take over their stations with their home-cooked recipes and share their culture with the student body. It will be back next year.

Vegan and Vegetarian concerns:

The kitchen currently offers an exclusive Eating green station, which has a minimum of four specialty cold vegan recipes and one or two hot vegan options every day. On the digital menu boards, residents and guests can identify vegetarian and vegan choices each day. This past month, they have introduced Beyond Meat products in the Bengal Kitchen to add more protein-based centers of the plate options for the students and it has been well received amongst our plant-based diet students. The kitchen is planning on introducing many new recipes in the spring semester, as they are looking for more recipes and products to feature in the kitchen.

“I’m an alumnus myself and I take a lot of pride in creating a dining program that I feel is well above most of the other dining programs around,” Bucello said. “My son, who goes to a school in Cleveland and his friends came up and they were amazed at the dining program we have compared to where their school was. Sometimes you don’t know what you have until you don’t have it. I think that the fact that we constantly look to evolve. It’s how we stay relevant to students. ”

Make your voice heard and Bucello will do his best to meet your needs.