A dining hall professional arranges tacos prepares food over a stove.

A Pomona College dining services staff member learns a new plant-based recipe.

Cauliflower buffalo wings. Mushroom street tacos with cilantro cream sauce. Thai gazpacho. These are only a sample of the delectable plant-based recipes that more than 20 Pomona College campus food service professionals learned and prepared during the Forward Food Culinary Experience, a two-day training led by The Humane Society.

The hands-on training, tailored for culinary professionals at universities, hospitals and other community institutions, took place Aug. 16 and 17 at Pomona’s Frank Dining Hall. Since the program’s inception, The Humane Society has conducted more than 100 of these culinary trainings across the U.S., introducing delicious plant-based cuisine to food pros.

A platter of tacos made of mushrooms and other vegetables.

 Mushroom street tacos with cilantro cream sauce.

The training sparked menu ideas and “culinary enthusiasm,” among staff and students, says Dining Services General Manager Jose Martinez, who brought the workshop to Pomona. “As chefs we have the responsibility to take into consideration the health of our guests, but also our planet.”

With the Humane Society providing training, the Pomona team devoted most of the day to working in the kitchen, learning recipes for salads, pastas, soups, breakfast options, desserts and international dishes with chef Alicia Bell. After making their assigned recipes, the dining and catering staff enjoyed a buffet made of the plates they had just prepared.

Plant-based eating is gaining momentum not only among Pomona students, faculty and staff, but around the country. According to a report by the research firm GlobalData, only 1 percent of U.S. consumers claimed to be vegan in 2014. In 2017, that number rose to 6 percent.

Pomona College dining and catering staff learn to make new plant-based food recipes.

Pomona College dining services staff member plating one of the new meals they learned to prepare in the two-day training.

Vegetarian and vegan options also support Pomona’s commitment to offering sustainable food on campus which provides long-term health benefits for our College community as well as our ecosystem supporting the College’s overall efforts for sustainability.

At Pomona’s Frary Dining Hall, Chef Travis Ellis and the culinary team are starting to serve less red meat, replacing it with hearty blends of local vegetables and fresh legumes, says Martinez. “Changes will include an enhanced grain bowl bar and more vegan dishes, making whole intact grains the new norm.” He adds that Chef Angel Villa is showcasing globally inspired, plant-based menu items such as chilaquiles, pho and curries, among other offerings.

These plant-based options will be incorporated to the menus at Frank, Frary and Oldenborg dining halls in the fall semester.