The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Top of the UC introduces new chef, new philosophy and improvements to food stations for fall 2022 semester

4 min read
A plate of food.

The Top of the University Center made upgrades to the Vegan Grill restaurant. Photo courtesy of David Schneider


Staff Writer

The Top of the UC has made some changes leading into the fall semester, including improvements to the Vegan Grill station and a new approach to the overall menu.

“At the UC we took a slightly different approach with the menu for this year. We’re trying to highlight specific dishes on the platforms in lieu of having a ton of variety, so we can really focus on higher end, restaurant quality and style foods,” said General Manager of UMW Dining David Schneider.

In addition to the quality boost, the Vegan Grill is also now a full-service restaurant station. Starting this semester, there is a staff member behind the counter preparing the dishes, and a hot plate keeping the plated dishes warm and readily available. In past years, most of the other stations at the Top of the UC offered this service and the hot plate amenity, but the Vegan Grill was left out of the arrangement. The way the station was set up in prior years was inconvenient and inefficient for students and staff alike, likely acting as a deterrent to students eating there, Schneider said. 

“We have noticed a huge increase in participation at that particular restaurant which is awesome, and the food is great,” he said.

In addition to the substantial number of UMW students who eat exclusively vegan or vegetarian diets, some students who do not ordinarily adhere to these diets have been frequenting the Vegan Grill.

“As someone who does not usually enjoy vegetarian or vegan food, this semester I have been primarily eating at the Vegan Grill. They have really stepped up their game!” said Chloe Dietz, a sophomore history major in the secondary education program.

Another one of the dining updates is the addition of Globowls to the Top of the UC. Globowls is a rebrand of last year’s Presto Pasta.

“Everything is served in bowls, and it is upscale, restaurant-style offerings featured twice a month,” said Schneider. “Students can swipe in and utilize some additional flex. This is really exciting because it gives us a brand and an identity and brings excitement and quality to the program.”

Additionally, there is a new chef on staff, David Roeder, who is responsible for some of the changes. He has been on staff for about a week now.

“The chef that was with us before did a great job,” said Schneider. “He was looking to seek out other opportunities and he found something that fit him a little bit better. So, we hired Roeder, who has an extensive background in Ritz-Carlton hotels and contracted food service, and I think he’s going to bring a lot of leadership to the team, which is really needed to help keep our folks happy and to keep them producing great food, and keep our program moving forward.”

Schneider said that some students may experience stomach aches as they adjust to eating at the UC. 

“It’s a big diet change for students when they come,” said Schneider. “They’re at home eating foods they have been accustomed to their whole lives and they come here and they’re eating french fries every day. The diet changes. You may get a little tummy ache if you go off of what is normal for you.”

Schneider continued, “The first year I was here I used to see, and you can quote me on this, they call it the ‘UC shits’ and it really got me upset cause I’m like we don’t put out bad food, like we don’t. A lot of it really is just the change.”

This past summer, five members of the team were recognized by the national magazine, Food Management. Among these five were Chef Rigoberto Mendoza, Senior Cook Emily Bond, Marketing Assistant Joye Thomas, Resident Dining Supervisor Raymunda Rauer and Resident Dining Supervisor Mary Williams.

“Over 400 nominations were submitted to the magazine, only 31 total people were selected, and five of them were UMW Dining employees,” said UMW Dining Marketing Manager, Rose Benedict. 

 At the height of the pandemic, UMW Dining was not able to achieve its ideal level of sustainability due to the need for throwaway take-out boxes, cutlery and other essential supplies conducive to maintaining health and safety for students and staff. 

Now that circumstances surrounding the pandemic permit them to do so, the Top of the UC has adopted sustainability practices. These practices include utilizing solely biodegradable and compostable disposable products and using only cage-free shell eggs and sustainable seafood products, among others. In addition, UMW’s food service provider Sodexo is an “industry leader” in terms of ethical and sustainable practices, Benedict said. 

UMW Dining is also working to address issues of food insecurity both on campus and in the surrounding area. Starting on Sep. 12, one night a week, the Food Recovery Network will be coming to retrieve any leftover food from the Top of the UC to donate to the Thurman Brisben Center, a shelter for at-risk or homeless individuals or families in the Fredericksburg area. This practice will limit food waste and provide food for the shelter.