Touring UBC Food Services at the University of British Columbia. With 54,000 people on campus daily during the school year, over 40 restaurants are ready to serve, offering many different types of cuisines, in popular branded restaurants as well as their own concept restaurants. There are two executive chefs, each with different roles, over-seeing multiple kitchens.
Executive Chef, David Speight runs Sage Bistro as well as catering throughout the university.
David’s passion for food is rivalled only by his dedication to health and sustainability. Born and raised in Vancouver, David is somewhat of a culinary legend at Rogers Arena where, as executive chef for six years, he developed a nutrition program for the Vancouver Canucks, kept 2010 Canadian Olympic hockey players properly fuelled for their big games, and frequently prepared gourmet meals for visiting celebrities, recording artists, and heads of state. He also implemented an organization-wide recycling, composting, and food donation program.
I ate my way around UBC starting off with a tasting lunch at the beautiful Sage Restaurant which overlooks the rose garden on the Western side of campus.
I then toured one of the multi brand food courts which includes the highest grossing sales White Spot Triple O’s in the world, Tim Horton’s and Bento Sushi.
Next stop was on the East side of campus to try some of the bowls at Roaming Bowl Food Truck, my favourite was the Kung Pao Chicken. Chef Joseph Thomas runs the Mobile food operations which include 5 food trucks, each serving a different type of cuisine, and located all over campus during the week days. This is only one of two universities in the world that has their own food trucks on campus operated by the university.
Executive Chef, Piyush Sahay, CCC runs the Residence, Commissary and Retail Operations
“Students at UBC come from all over the world and have sophisticated palates. So, it’s important that we provide fresh, flavourful, healthy selections with a global appeal using local and sustainable ingredients. During the growing season, we purchase most of our produce from our very own UBC Farm. We always have plenty of vegetarian and vegan choices available in residence and around campus and provide nutrition advice to help students make healthy choices, says Chef Piyush Sahay”
Chef Piyush began his career in Bombay, India, after receiving his hospitality and culinary training in Normandy, France. He moved to Canada in 1995, after working at prestigious hotels such as Penta and Taj Group of Hotels. Chef Piyush and his team have competed in and won several gold and silver medals in culinary challenges in the U.S.A. and Canada, including the prestigious CATIE award. His team has also catered to several visiting dignitaries such as the Dalai Lama, Bishop Tutu and the Empress of Japan.
I then toured some of the restaurants located in the several residence buildings on the campus, next stop was to indulge in an Italian feast at Mercante the Italian pizzeria located at Ponderosa Commons where I had the pleasure to meet all of the chefs and taste a variety of dishes including their pizzas, lasagna, salads and their delicious Tiramisu.
Chef Steve Golob runs the food operations in the Vanier’s dining room at the Place Vanier Residence, where his team makes almost everything from scratch serving all types of cuisines from morning to night.
Lastly I toured the Vanier’s dining room at the Place Vanier Residence which not only serves the students who reside there, the restaurant is also open to the public.
Colin Moore is the Director of food services, he oversees the 600 staff (of which 200 are students) and is responsible for the strategic planning and successful operation of all Food Services at UBC including: Residence Dining, Retail Operations, Central Commissary, Wescadia Catering, and 2 full-service restaurants, Sage Bistro and The Point Grill. Colin was previously Regional Direct of Operations for Starbucks for 8 years, as well as Yum Restaurants Canada.
UBC Food Services works hard to plan menus around sustainable products and services. Victoria Wakefield (aka: The Queen of Green) manages purchasing at UBC Food Services. Making ethical choices for procuring everything from food, packaging and services is a priority for all of us, and it’s one of Vicki’s top passions.
My afternoon touring UBC Food Services was an eye opener, as I learned so much about how the university operates all its food outlets and operations. This university is a leader in sustainability and its food services operations are top notch in the world. All the restaurants on campus are open to the public, and I encourage you to visit when you are in the area.
By: Richard Wolak