New food service provider to focus on fresh, local and scratch-cooking

Dana Hospitality "fits in perfectly with McGill’s ideology of putting sustainability at the forefront of everything we do"
More than ever, McGill’s culinary options will include fresh, sustainable, quality and locally sourced ingredients in its nutritious scratch-cooking approach.Jessica Goodsell

There’s a new chef in town – or at least a new food supplier. In response to a campus-wide consultation process focussing on McGill food outlets, the Dana Hospitality food services company is revitalizing the culinary offerings at the University by taking over 11 cafés, providing catering services and running two residence dining halls.

Marisa Albanese, Senior Director of Student and Housing Hospitality Services (SHHS), praised the partnership between McGill and the small Canadian company for its commitment to using fresh, sustainable, quality and locally sourced ingredients and for its nutritious scratch-cooking approach.

Whenever possible, Dana will buy produce like tomatoes and peppers, as well as fresh eggs, from the Macdonald Campus farm. All charcuterie products used in sandwiches, pastries, desserts, pizza dough, sauces, soups, and hot meals will be made from scratch.

Albanese said that Dana “fits in perfectly with McGill’s ideology of putting sustainability at the forefront of everything we do. That’s their signature – fresh ingredients and foods and cooking from scratch.

“In fact, they’re even going to push us, teach us new things.”

“McGill is already one of the best universities in Canada in terms of sustainability, it’s now deeply embedded in our culture,” said Albanese. “It’s all about local food – even hyper-local. And Dana will continue that drive. They are much closer to the consumer.”

A vast consultation process conducted by SHHS started in the winter of 2018 with a survey that polled 10,689 members of the McGill community – students, faculty and staff.  “Whiteboard events,” were organized at that time inviting McGillians to write down their preferences regarding food options.

Scratch cooking at residence halls

Dana Hospitality will operate New Residence Dining Hall and Carrefour Sherbrooke Dining Hall.

Residence dining halls will offer full-service home-cooked meals, soups, stocks, sauces and dressings, jams, home-roasted meats, hand-cut potatoes and French fries and freshly formed burgers.

In line with feedback from students, the food outlets promise to offer a greater variety of healthy meals and snacks at affordable prices.

Fresh, sustainable and local plant-based foods at campus cafés

All 11 campus cafés, including La Citadelle residence café, will emphasize home-made nutritious meals made with sustainable ingredients from the Macdonald campus as much as possible.

One major innovation will be the “Inch by Inch” concept, the option of ordering sandwiches, coffee cakes and squares priced on their size, providing very good value for money and aligning the size of the snack with the appetite, as well as the pocketbook. Snacks will include bite-size sandwiches for $2 each, said Albanese.

Redpath Library will still offer standard sushi boxes, but has added boxes containing six pieces to satisfy smaller appetites, at a lower price.

A Toi Moi & Café will feature fair trade coffee; an 8-ounce cup will cost $1.39.

The Law Café will feature BBQ options and new “grab-and-go” meals and snacks. It will add a Bento Sushi option and Mandy’s salads. The Athletic Café will offer food-truck fare and grab-and-go meals, as well as Bento Sushi and Mandy’s salads.

Various other outlets, including Subway, Vinh’s, Soupe Café, and other independent snack-counters will remain in operation.

Catering to offer fresh and local foods

Dana Hospitality’s catering arm, called La Cuisine Traiteur, will also completely revamp its selection to reflect the new approach using fresh and local ingredients.

At retail outlets, meals will be cooked onsite to the extent possible.

Albanese said that a number of students requested options that are more attuned to their needs.

“Some students spend 12, even 16 hours straight in the Redpath Library, so a cup of coffee is not exactly a full meal. And snacks like pastries and the like were not what they wanted. They asked for small and healthy snacks.”

Tasting events will be held on a rotating basis as of late September to allow students, faculty and staff to sample the various foods.

The tasting event schedule is as follows:

  • Sept. 18, Redpath Café: pizza, toasts, Bento, Toi Moi & Café and other delights
  • Sept. 19, Law Café: cornbread, smoked jackfruit and pulled pork, home-made iced tea
  • Sept. 24, Trottier Café: Bento hot, Inch by Inch, sweet delights
  • Sept. 25, McConnell Café: Booster Juice and other delights
  • Sept. 26, Athletics Café: Beef & Beyond meat nachos, mac & cheese, home-made iced tea

Each event will take place from noon to 2 pm