The dining program for one of the leading academic institutions in the world, R&DE Stanford Dining, has strengthened its commitment to serving plant-based proteins by creating a new 80/20 mushroom beef burger.

Created by the R&DE Stanford Dining culinary leadership team, the new burger is a healthier, more sustainable alternative to the burger currently served at the university’s dining halls, which is a 50/50 mushroom beef burger.

“Our culinary journey this year has been a deeper dive into serving more exciting, flavorful and interesting plant-based protein dishes,” said Eric Montell, executive director for R&DE Stanford Dining. “We are continually focused on advancing healthier, more sustainable life-long choices for our students.”

The growing focus on plant-based protein is in support of Stanford’s 15 Culinary Standards, which were developed in support of the Menus of Change Principles and the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC).

The standards include embracing healthy beverages, healthier oils, reducing added sugar and salt, sourcing sustainable animal proteins and using more plant-based proteins.

“In support of the Menus of Change Principles, we want to rethink plant-focused diets and the protein flip, and push the boundaries on what is possible,” said Montell. “We are focused on serving food in ways that are innovative, nutritious, delicious, and sustainable.”

Since R&DE Stanford Dining began incorporating more plant-based proteins into its menus, the amount of animal protein purchased has been reduced by 14 percent and plant-based protein purchases have increased by 29 percent.

R&DE Stanford Dining has also launched the Jamie Oliver’s Cook Smart Program, a new culinary education program for university students. Created in partnership with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, the program is the first of its kind in the nation.

The Jamie Oliver’s Cook Smart Program is a customised nine week, hands-on cooking curriculum, aimed at inspiring change through food education. The program is taught by R&DE Stanford Dining chefs who have been trained and certified by the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. Students in the classes will learn about healthy eating and the fundamentals of cooking. Each eight student class will meet once a week, with the first class focusing on basic kitchen and knife skills. Along with teaching cooking skills, the classes will focus on core nutritional messages and food sustainability.

Earlier this year, Hospitality magazine visited Stanford University and gained an insight into how 350 staff members pump out some 3.5 million meals a year.  

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