“Bon Appétit wins awards for its food, and we’re confident they will provide a high-quality meal plan and outstanding service,” said Chris Colombo, dean for student life. “We’re going to have a great dining program at MIT.”
Bon Appétit is known for their creative menu offerings, sustainability programs, and service, including being honored multiple times as the number one college food service in the country by The Princeton Review, according to Rich Berlin, director of Campus Dining. “Bon Appétit is well recognized for its commitment to scratch preparation such as stocks, salad dressing and sauces, its use of local suppliers, and its ongoing commitment to leadership in all facets of sustainable food operations,” he said.
As the vendor for the new program, Bon Appétit will provide all-you-care-to-eat breakfast and dinner at five residence halls (Baker House, McCormick Hall, Maseeh Hall, Next House and Simmons Hall), with lunch also available in The Howard Dining Hall at Maseeh. Bon Appétit has been charged with developing menus that put a premium on student choice and for providing food options that maximize nutrition, sustainability and creativity. An on-campus executive chef will oversee regular updates to menus in response to student feedback, changes in seasonally available food products and specialized dietary needs.
“MIT has been a wonderful partner and I am thrilled to expand our relationship,” said Michael Bauccio, Bon Appétit chief operating officer. “I take our role on a campus very seriously and am honored that MIT has chosen to work with us. Together we can build a fantastic food program that both organizations can take pride in.”
Bon Appétit currently manages MIT’s House Dining operations, but its status as the incumbent was no guarantee of success in the evaluation process. “The new House Dining program offers such an expansion in service and scope that it represents a significantly different system,” Berlin said.
The vendor selection process drew proposals from several companies. An Evaluation Committee consisting of students, faculty and staff was charged with reviewing written proposals, attending face-to-face presentations by the vendors, and making site visits to inspect campus dining operations at other universities currently managed by each vendor. To assess each potential vendor, the committee focused on several key factors, including the company’s ability to provide high quality dining options that are flexible and meet student needs; to build relationships with students and respond to feedback; and to promote community via clean, well-managed facilities that invite students to gather over meals.
“We were fortunate to receive several strong proposals, but the written response from Bon Appétit and the committee’s site visits to their other college and university accounts best demonstrated that they understand the MIT community and could provide great food that will excite our students and fulfill the high expectation for the new House Dining program," Berlin said. “Their proposal was also very competitive in terms of cost, an important factor in ensuring value for our students.”
The Evaluation Committee included substantial input from students and faculty housemasters from the House Dining communities. Committee members say they are very pleased with the selection of Bon Appétit.
“Because many students are being asked to make a higher commitment to dining next year, this service needs to be worth every penny. I think the MIT administration understands this, and I think Bon Appétit is best positioned to provide the high-quality program that students expect,” said sophomore Michael Plasmeier, who represented Baker House on the committee. “When I visited other schools, currently with Bon Appétit, and talked to the students there, I was very impressed with the rave reviews I heard from the students — many of whom were participating voluntarily in a dining plan.”