US Army Representatives Tour Columbia Dining Facilities Escorted by Chef Robert Irvine

On April 10, more than 10 representatives from the United States Army visited Columbia Dining locations to observe the University’s food service model and operations.

May 01, 2024

Serving 3,000 daily meals out of John Jay alone, Columbia Dining understands the intricacies of large scale food operations. Their service model, encompassing seven dining halls, five retail cafes, and almost 300 staff, produces more than 9,500 delicious meals each day.

Columbia’s efficient delivery and commitment to quality food has previously been praised by acclaimed English Chef, Restaurateur and Author Robert Irvine as “the best food of any university on this planet.” Chef Irvine, a longtime friend of Columbia Dining and two-time chef guest for Battle of the Dining Halls, also serves as a consultant to the US military through his foundation. To learn more about fresh, flavorful mass meal production on a budget, Chef Irvine recommended that US army representatives tour Columbia Dining’s facilities.

The tour was led by Columbia Dining Assistant Vice President Vicki Dunn and Executive Chef Michael De Martino and visited three Columbia Dining Halls, two kitchens and a retail café. While Dunn described the operation’s purchasing procedures, service model, and budget, Chef De Martino discussed storage practices, staff training, and meal preparation. Representatives were also welcomed by unit managers who provided additional insight into the operating activities at their facility.

The tour concluded with a meal at John Jay where Army staff were invited to sample the lunch menu, including salmon with chimichurri, tri color fingerling potatoes, green beans with garlic and Mindful Chicken bulgogi as well as the salad bar featuring homemade beet hummus.

“It was an honor to host representatives from the United States military on campus. We’re proud of the model we’ve built here at Columbia and hope others can learn from our operation,” says Dunn.