From Pat Brown’s to Brown’s, Improving Campus Eating Options

By: Bella Tsay, Cal Dining Sustainability Team

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Nestled in the Northwest corner of campus, away from the hustle of Sproul Plaza, Brown’s- A California Cafe hosted its grand opening event on Wednesday, October 21st. The first of its kind on campus, Brown’s unique factor lies in its mostly local menu – the majority of the ingredients in each dish are sourced within 250 miles of UC Berkeley. Only about 15 ingredients from the entire menu are not locally sourced, many of them being herbs. Spearheading the menu revamp is Kristen Rasmussen, UC Berkeley Nutritional Sciences lecturer. Her vision of the new Brown’s, was a cafe “committed to serving local, environmentally-conscious foods using scratch-cooking techniques. Rather than focusing on foods not to eat, we’re striving to get our guests excited about whole, healthy foods and plant-based meals”.

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With increased awareness surrounding food systems and the benefits of eating fresh, rea   l food comes a demand for university dining establishments to meet such standards. The Brown’s menu comes complete with considerations for vegans and vegetarians, with an emphasis on the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. There are a variety of plant-based sides to accommodate any meal – from carrot cilantro slaw to roasted squash with cumin and lemon zest.

Having a local menu means that seasonality is a factor Brown’s will have to take into account as the semesters change. Certain entrees such as the Harvest salad will change depending on what time of year it is to feature the prime fruits and vegetables of the season. Though the Brown’s menu features a variety of plant-based dishes, the menu is balanced, offering animal proteins as well. Non-vegetarians can enjoy herb roasted Mary’s Organic Chicken, BN Ranch grassfed sirloin, and a variety of burgers and panini’s to suit their taste buds.

As far as the progress Brown’s has made so far, Kristen says, “I think we’re definitely achieving this goal [of getting people excited about whole, healthy foods], but there’s always room for improvement and I’m excited to see how Brown’s will develop!”  There is something for everyone at Brown’s, and it will continue to strive for excellence in providing local, fresh dishes for students and faculty alike. Though it may be off the beaten path for some, it is very well worth the trek to get there.

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