Most students would be surprised to find that there is a world beyond the serving lines in Thorne Dining Hall.
The College's Dining Service is distinct from those of most other colleges and universities nationwide because it has its own bake shop and meat-cutting room, which are located past the kitchen area in Thorne. Other institutions have one or the other, but rarely both, according to Purchasing Manager of Dining Services Jon Wiley.
While the meat the College uses comes from various sources, Bowdoin's dining staff alone prepares the meat.
"Most of our food, around 80 percent, comes in from North Center Foods. They handle a lot of what we bring in," Wiley said.
According to Associate Director of Dining Service Ken Cardone and Wiley, Bowdoin obtains fish from Harbor Fish in Portland and lobster from Quahog Lobster in Harpswell. Luce's Farms in North Anson also provides the College with certain meats. Additionally, Archer Angus in Chesterville, which is owned and operated by a Bowdoin alumnus, supplies the College with Black Angus beef.
Essentially, the College follows many procedures similar to those practiced at a butcher shop, with the exception of actually slaughtering the animals.
"A good portion of the beef that we buy—almost 100 percent—is from Luce['s Farms]," Cardone said. "We don't buy any pre-ground meat. We'll buy primal cuts, a whole chuck and rounds and loins. Then, we process it ourselves."
Wiley explained, "We can tailor the cuts to our own specifications, which ensures food safety."
The College's firm belief in purchasing non-processed meats has allowed for its students to "be seldom affected by the recalls that happened. The cuts are minimally processed when they come in through the back door," Wiley said.
This longstanding practice continues to be an integral part of the dining experience at Bowdoin.
"Ken and I came [to Bowdoin] in 1989," said Wiley. "It predates our time here."
"[The process started] when the warehouse was put up, quite a few years ago," said Cardone. "It's been part of the culture for a long time. We had a warehouse in the back of Farley Field House where the meat house was located."
Now located in the basement of Thorne Hall, the meat-cutting room is equipped with a vast array of machines and devices that assist the dining staff with meat processing.
"We just bought a machine that processes sausages," Cardone said. "We experimented with a few recipes and have been very successful."
Wiley added, "We have a grinder that grinds the meat into patties. We also have our own smoker out back."
With an entire room dedicated to the processing and handling of meat, Dining Service exercises a lot of power over the quality of food that is served in the dining halls.
"We have a lot of talented staff who are very good at what they do," Wiley said. "We also have a lot of control and flexibility over what we give our students."