Bruin Plate, the first health-themed dining hall on the Hill, is scheduled to open this fall in Sproul Presidio, a new building that will house the dining hall, a multipurpose room and a fitness center.
“It will be our healthiest and most sustainable dining hall,” said Daryl Ansel, director of food and beverage for UCLA Housing and Hospitality Dining Services.
Bruin Plate will seat up to 900 people at a time and serve as many as 1,500 people in a meal period, making it the largest dining hall on the Hill. It will initially only be open to students and their guests and eventually will accommodate faculty, staff and the general public as well.
The Hill’s chefs tested recipes for the restaurant last year at the Hedrick Test Kitchen and received feedback through online surveys about the recipes, Ansel said.
Bruin Plate will not have any sodas, processed foods or traditional desserts because those who filled out the survey did not express interest in eating them at the dining hall. The change is also being made to promote UCLA’s Healthy Campus Initiative, which encourages a healthy diet and lifestyle for members of the UCLA community, Ansel said.
In place of sodas and desserts, Bruin Plate will offer infused waters of various flavors – vanilla-peach and pineapple-mango-hibiscus, for example – a vegetable bar and a greek and frozen yogurt station with fruit and granola toppings.
The recipes will be made with local meats and produce and the menu will include numerous vegan and vegetarian options, such as kale and a kabocha squash sauce.
Bruin Plate has focused on creating relationships with farmers who work within 500 miles of the university, said Aliana Lungo-Shapiro, sustainability manager for Housing & Hospitality Services.
“Our goal is to integrate sustainability into all aspects, especially in the recipes,” Lungo-Shapiro said. “We’re preparing foods that support the long-term health of the planet.”
Lungo-Shapiro said she’s confident students will enjoy the food at the dining hall, because of the positive response at the Test Kitchen and from enjoying the food herself.
Ansel said he is most excited, however, to show students the new breakfast options that Bruin Plate will offer. Some breakfast items will include hibiscus-beet and pear-garlic compotes, fresh whole grain bread from UCLA’s bakery and polenta French toast encrusted with cornflakes.
“We want to introduce things you normally wouldn’t consume together, like kiwi and celery,” said Alex Macias, assistant director of food and beverage services. “Through developing this restaurant, I’ve become a fan of many ingredients that I wasn’t a fan of before.”
Ansel said he expects Bruin Plate to be very crowded in the first few weeks after the opening, especially with more students living on the Hill this year in the new buildings. He said he does not expect that the influx of students at Bruin Plate will permanently affect attendance at the other dining halls.
The Hedrick Test Kitchen will remain open for dinner Sunday to Thursday every week to test new Mediterranean dishes that will be served at Covel Commons starting winter quarter, Ansel said. He added that they will create dishes with recipes from Spain, France and countries in the Middle East to keep Covel Commons’ food innovative for students.
The dining staff is still waiting on approval from construction workers before they can open the dining hall, Macias said.