Bon Appétit Serves Up A New Twist On Cafeteria Food

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By GAVIN ATILANO

Santa Fe”” As I walked into this semester, I remembered that the tail end of the fall semester had its goings on salted with both rumor and circumstance. The movers and shakers were (allegedly) gonna be moving and shaking things. New this. Improved that. More of this. Less of that. I went home not thinking anything of it.

The spring semester lulled on and delivered more of the same old, same old. Then, one day, IAIA junior Dylan McLaughlin offered to buy me lunch at the cafeteria– the new and improved, moved and shaken cafeteria. I had been victim of the cafeteria’s previous incarnation and was a little hesitant of reliving the gastro-intestinal nightmare but word of mouth put me through the doors.

From the moment I walked in, olfactory tying with memory, I felt something familiar. Then I saw the cashier, Lizette, and I knew that I had been here before. But here was not here. This wasn’t metaphysical or anything. Hardly. The cafeteria was the same as at my former College of Santa Fe campus.


Bon Appétit, managed by husband and wife Guido and Melody Lambelet, had gotten the contract with IAIA and had retained many of the same cast of characters working the trays.

The food was like a visit from old friends, which Guido and Melody truly are. Eating their food is almost like getting to know them. There is just good, positive energy in the food and in its presentation which rubs off on the student body.

You can tell just by talking to Melody and Guido that they love what they do and you can taste it in their work. Things you can also tell just by looking at ”˜em: they make mad risotto and they probably have a way with sauce.

Bon Appétit: Sustainable Cuisine  

One of the determining factors in IAIA’s contracting of Bon Appétit was its usage of sustainable and local ingredients and the company’s agreement to tailor the menus to Native American cuisine.

Bon Appétit, from when I knew it, relied tremendously on its relationship with the student body, and judging by my recent experience, it still does. There were the familiar comment cards and posting board where Melody and Guido physically write out their responses to everyone’s comments and requests.

Melody finds humor in the comments. “There’s only been one comment card requesting any Native dish! The oddest requests have been Rocky Mountain Oysters and Spam,” she said as she gestured, “No!”

Then  there is  the praise from around campus, from faculty and students alike. Senior Marcus Dunn says, “Anything is better than last semester. We had rice. Daily. With three meat options – chicken, beef, and spongy, spongy turkey.

“Oh, and greasy potatoes as well. I really can’t find much to complain about this year.”

 Not Everyone is Happy

Naysayers abound in any situation and this one is no exception. The flip side of that coin yields IAIA senior Denise Slater. Denise wonders about the veracity of Bon Apetit’s claim of “healthy food.”

“I’m not sure what’s in [the food] and sometimes [the people serving it] don’t even know. Some people are allergic to certain things””like peanuts.”

Denise claims this lack of information forces her to the salad bar almost every day and she, for the most part, leaves hungry.

Students argue about the quality of the Native dishes.   These students stick to the sandwich line due to their distaste for the hot options. The lines themselves also appear on this list of grievances.

Responding to these comments, Melody offers that she and Guido would have liked to have had a hand in the layout of the place.   On the bright side, she adds with a laugh, “But the view is phenomenal.”

The layout of the space apparently doesn’t lend itself to the fact that the cafeteria does 70 percent of its business in the half-hour between 12 and 12:30.

There’s still variety and option for all the vegan-tarians and what not.  Bon Appétit will cater to your every food allergy or eating lifestyle if you ask them. So if you’re a level-three vegan who eats nothing that casts a shadow, Guido and Melody have got your back. Altruism comes to mind.

”¦just wait till y’all get Greek days. The line is astronomical. Do not even contemplate seconds.

 Copyright © IAIA CHRONICLE 2010

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