Mission: “living and learning.”
On August 26th, Washington University in St. Louis opened its new 800-seat Bear's Den in the — also brand new — 61,000-sq.ft. South Forty House residential center. The multi-concept dining destination, a part of the university's larger “living and learning” concept, offers local, sustainable fare to what is estimated will be some 3,000 diners a day.
“Living and learning” is designed to get students to live, learn, and eat together in a program that seamlessly integrates academic rigor with real-life lessons. In the dining operation, it is reflected in touches like Studio40, a demonstration kitchen where dining services provider Bon Appetit Management Co. chefs give free lessons on healthy home cooking, to the 18,000 square foot bio-intensive roof garden.
The seasonal menus at Bear's Den were developed with an eye toward supporting local agriculture and production, with much of the food coming from Farm to Fork partners, small family-owned farms and local artisans within a 150-mile radius.
But while many of the raw ingredients may be local, the menu is definitely globally inspired. Bear's Den is nine unique dining concepts range from Indian to Italian and also include a fresh market and a soup and salad bar.
To ensure that authentic cooking methods, flavors and presentation abound, Bon Appetit hired specialty chefs augmenting their skill with trainings from “masters of the trade.”
In keeping with the building's sustainable design (and pending LEED certification), the dining venue plans to compost all kitchen food waste, minimize the need for cooling with special eco-hoods, convert waste oil into bio-fuel and offer re-usable, returnable, to-go boxes to minimize trash and food waste.