'Taste of the Tartans' event showcases campus vendors

The Taste of the Tartans event filled Rangos Ballroom with samples of every cuisine on campus: from warm baguettes to La Prima coffee. (credit: Torrey Hart/Junior Photographer) The Taste of the Tartans event filled Rangos Ballroom with samples of every cuisine on campus: from warm baguettes to La Prima coffee. (credit: Torrey Hart/Junior Photographer)

One question prevails throughout the hectic day of the average college student: “What should I eat?”

Once a year, Carnegie Mellon Dining Services attempts to answer this question.

Taste of the Tartans, an annual event that showcases the dining options at Carnegie Mellon, occured on Tuesday, September 22. Vendors filled Rangos Ballroom in the University Center, prepared to offer students and staff a taste of what they’re all about.

Head of University Dining Services Pascal Petter described to The Tartan what the event means to him: “It’s truly an opportunity to give the community the chance to try our services, and for us to showcase the diversity of the dining program.”

Indeed, the event was diverse. The 35 vendors in 14 different buildings at Carnegie Mellon include every type of cuisine from Japanese to Mediterranean, with options for every possible dietary restriction. Petter stressed that the event is not just for students, but also for the larger community of faculty and staff, many of whom eat the majority of their meals on campus.

The university’s dining system is drastically different than that of other schools. Instead of the typical dining hall filled with soft-serve yogurt, pizza, and other tempting treats, the Carnegie Mellon system makes it easy for students to keep up a healthy lifestyle if they so choose.

In addition to the food attractions, Carnegie Mellon’s Peer Health Advocates made an appearance at the event. Representatives from the organization manned a trivia table where students could spin a wheel to answer questions about nutrition, learn important facts, and receive prizes.

The advocates, also Carnegie Mellon students, were there to emphasize maintaining a diet that supports the many activities in which students participate. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, for each meal, half of the plate should be fruits and vegetables, a quarter of the plate should be whole grains, and the final quarter should be sources of high protein.

Students and staff alike enjoyed the event. “I’m absolutely enjoying it and I do every year. I’m here [on-campus] all the time, and it can be difficult to get away from my regular routine and try something new,” Bonnie Lack said, who works in the Financial Aid Department.

Vendors offered samples of some of their most popular items from La Prima cappuccinos to The Pomegranate’s falafel sandwiches to El Gallo de Oro’s burrito bowls.
When asked about the event, Psychology Department research assistant Mary MacWhinney said, “I think that they’ve outdone themselves, it’s so generous. I particularly like the mashed potatoes and meatloaf.”

Chris Bovard from the Carnegie Mellon PNC office told The Tartan, “I wish this was everyday. Everything I’ve tried is great.” While students were eager to try the free samples, some expressed their concern with the dining system as a whole.

“I’m a sophomore and both times I’ve gone the samples have been better than the food we actually get for meals,” said sophomore biology major Sandra Ho.

The food offered at Taste of the Tartans was the best of what the vendors have to offer, which is not always available to students every day. However, not all students are disappointed in the eating accommodations on-campus. Sophomore chemical engineering major Sarah Winget noted that she “loves going to Resnik, because they have so many different options.”

“I just stumbled upon this event and there is so much food and variety, and it really showcases what we have on campus,” first-year undeclared Dietrich student Julia Adams said.
Regardless of the reality of the CMU dining system, Taste of the Tartans expressed the University’s interest in student welfare.