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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Lunda Room to house Innovation Kitchen

Photo by Helen Dudley [email protected]
Innovation Kitchen renovations are due to be complete in December.

The Lunda Room is being revamped to open up the space to students, faculty and staff who want to learn cooking techniques from a professional chef.

The new space, called Innovation Kitchen, will be part of the Lunda Room in the Alumni Memorial Union,  separated by a retractable glass wall. It will host events that students will be able to sign up for individually or in small groups.

The construction started near the end of summer, with the space expected to open mid-November. The retractable glass wall will not be installed until December.

“It’s a multi-faceted kind of approach to a teaching kitchen,” Rick Arcuri, executive director of student affairs operations, said.

With larger events, like Sodexo’s Global Chef programs, the space will transform the entire Lunda Room into the Innovation Kitchen.

“(The Lunda Room) was way under-utilized,” Donato Guida, general manager of Sodexo, said. “It was almost more used for faculty and staff, though it’s open to students. I think they didn’t feel as comfortable in there. So we wanted to take it and make it more student-focused.”

To make the teaching process most effective, the Innovation Kitchen will feature brand new cooking equipment, 55-inch TVs, seating, counters and an updated speaker system.

The chef hosting the event will be hooked up to mics, with cameras projecting the prep areas and cooking areas on the TVs. Depending on the type of event, participants will be able to watch, cook alongside the chef, or make their own dishes.

Sodexo chefs from Marquette Place and Cobeen will host some events, but a newly-hired chef, Jim Udulutch, will be in charge of most of the programming.

Udulutch, who was previously a culinary instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College, impressed Guida when he took 40 minutes to explain his process of making Chicken Roulade during his interview.

“We were in a room with 10 people, and you could see that people in the room had been enlightened, going, ‘I’m going to cook this tonight. That’s way easier than I thought it would be,’” Guida said.

Guida also said the space will also act as a test kitchen for meals that could be served in dining halls.

“It gives us the ability to really test and try anything,” he said. “With the Global Chef programs, if we’re trying some of the authentic cuisines, if it works, you’ll see them in retail locations, in the resident dining locations – that’s what makes it really exciting.”

The auxiliary services board, made up of representatives from MUSG, was informed of the idea last school year.

“At the end of last year, we were deciding whether or not to choose Sodexo or another service provider to be the dining services provider. And along with that, they were kind of revamping a couple different aspects of dining on campus,” representative Dan Brophy, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said. “One of them was the Lunda Room in the AMU.”

Brophy said the board members were all supportive of the idea, providing suggestions when approached.

“This is not just somebody who knows how to cook food – it’s a chef, it’s professional and he’s supposed to be really interactive from what we’ve heard,” Brophy said. “(He’s) a very just kind of interesting guy, he’s very vocal, he’s going to engage students when they’re watching and when they’re a part of the process.”

The new equipment also gives the chefs the ability to record the lessons and upload them online, allowing students who were unable to attend to catch up on what they missed.

Ultimately, Guida said he hopes the space can introduce students to a new kind of authenticity.

“We might not be able to cook like your mom – matter of fact, nobody can cook like your mom, even if she was a good or a bad cook. That’s a different kind of authenticity,” he said. “But we could be in there and teach you our authentic cooking, or invite chefs from the community, or teach students to cook safely in their rooms or in their apartments for the first time.”

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