Changes in Latitudes
UC Davis dishes out diverse dining experience
By Tessa Marguerite Outland
Latitude focuses on the diversity of its community by serving scratch-made cuisine from regions around the world. “Our goal is making dining the least stressful and most enjoyable part of the day,” says Kraig Brady, director of dining services.
The Aggie Grown campaign began when UC Davis dining services decided to take advantage of the many agricultural endeavors on campus. Now, dining services collaborates with the UC Davis Pastured Poultry Program, Meat Lab, Goat Dairy, Olive Oil Center, Honey and Pollination Center, Student Farm and research facility Russell Ranch.
Chamayo Yniguez, associate director of dining services, and Kue Her, senior executive chef, are passionate about supporting local farms and farmers. Her oversees the culinary program, connects local ingredients to chefs and helps develop new recipes depending on what is available or in season. Yniguez and Her partner with the Student Farm on campus to use some of its produce for dining services. The 23-acre teaching farm is for any student at UC Davis who wants to learn about gardening—and reap some of the rewards.
The innovative Aggie Grown campaign familiarizes students with fresh, healthy, hyper-local alternatives to most dining experiences. Students “get to experience local agriculture like they’ve never experienced before,” Brady says. Dining services on campus is continuously imagining new ways to create more sustainable ways of eating. Recently, dining services introduced the blended burger, which has increased nutritional value and reduced fat content with 30 percent mushroom and 70 percent beef. The blended burger was presented to students by the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science in a living lab (blind tasting) and was favored over burgers made entirely with beef and other blended burgers.
Approximately 20,000 meals are consumed each day on campus at UC Davis by students, staff and visitors, according to Brady. While there are multiple options to choose from—residential dining commons, restaurants, markets with grab-n-go options, coffeeshops, food trucks and concessions at sports games—Latitude is unlike any other dining experience on campus.
The restaurant opened in January and serves regional-based foods with four main platforms focusing on Latin-American, Asian, European, and Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. Within the modern building located on Bioletti Way south of Hutchison Drive, patrons will find savory, sweet and spicy dishes from around the world. The two-story building seats 500 people with spacious indoor and outdoor dining areas and to-go options. Latitude is open to the public for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday during the academic year.
To make dishes as authentic as possible, chefs seek out new spices and produce items. However, many of the ingredients for these meals (and other meals on campus) are supplied directly by UC Davis-grown foods within walking distance or even on campus. Chefs in Latitude’s kitchen use many ingredients grown on UC Davis soil to make tasty meals such as entraña con chimichurri Argentino (grilled skirt steak with chimichurri), tonkotsu ramen (pork ramen with soft poached egg), moules-frites (mussels and fries) and tomato bisque with cashew cream. Utilizing hyper-local ingredients is part of the university’s Aggie Grown campaign.
At Latitude Restaurant, some dishes will be served on a daily basis with the additional “chef’s choice” specials rotating weekly. Chef favorites include picanha (Brazilian salted skewered sirloin cap), pollo en salsa de coco (braised chicken in coconut sauce) with arroz con coco (rice with coconut), paella mixta (paella with meat and seafood), coq au vin (red wine braised chicken) and urid dal (black lentil stew).
Latitude Market offers artisan sandwiches, a sushi bar, made-to-order drinks and shakes, gelato, and premade to-go meals and sides.
Brady stresses that this broader range of meal options will not only add new varieties in flavor, but also elements of inclusivity, education and, hopefully, comfort. Offering this food on campus “brings a sense of home and familiarity,” Brady says. “It allows someone who may not be familiar with someone else’s cuisine to learn about someone else and how their food tastes.”
For more information, visit housing.ucdavis.edu/dining/latitude.
Tessa Marguerite Outland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.