The Medical Center at Saint Louis University has many food offerings, but Fresh Gathering Café stands out. For the SLU community, Fresh Gatherings is a hidden gem in the City of St. Louis. The café serves up food for students, staff and faculty while following sustainable practices, supporting local farmers and acts as an educational center for students. The mission is to eat locally and impact globally. The café gives its' customers great offerings while always keeping its mission in mind.
The café, which is located on the lower level of the Allied Health Professions (AHP) Building on the Medical campus at SLU, was started by Mildred Mattfeldt-Beman, Chairwoman of the Nutrition and Dietetics Department. The café has become an innovative learning outlet for many nutrition and dietetics students. "We use Fresh Gatherings in nearly every opportunity as a learning facility," said Mattfeldt-Beman. "We try to make it enough of a business to at least break even. Fresh Gatherings is a tremendous resource." Professors and Instructors use the kitchen space as a classroom and currently Quantity Food students and Dietetic Interns are doing rotations through the cafe. Todd Parkhurst, chef and instructor, teaches baking and pastry classes in the bakeshop area and occasionally external students' intern for example, students from Clyde C Miller Academy are currently interning at the café.
"When I first started, I was shocked to see what the café was ... it was a cafeteria, but not like any other cafeteria I have ever seen. A lot of the stuff we do here could easily be found in a restaurant at a higher price point. We are serving high quality food," says Bryan Rogers, sous chef for Fresh Gatherings.
In addition to the café, Mattfeldt-Beman is also in charge of the farm that produces a portion of the fruit, herbs and vegetables that the cafe uses. The farm, which is also located on the Medical campus at SLU and was recently certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), houses a greenhouse, an herb garden, local varieties of produce and has resident chickens.
New highlights of the café include a brand new espresso bar, gelato offerings and new Grab 'n' Go options. A smoothie bar is planned and will have a grand opening on April 11. Recently, the café underwent a design makeover. Fresh paint and signage make the café feel warm and inviting to students and the community.
Another new addition to the café is Fresh Gatherings Market. The market will be open on Fridays from May 18 through September 28 from 11 am to 6 pm. It will feature local produce, milk, eggs, bread as well as recipes for utilizing the available produce.
Fresh Gatherings Café also hosts a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program called Fresh Gatherings Harvest that partners with local farmers to supply quality, local produce. For more information on the CSA, please visit freshgatherings.slu.edu.
According to Shaina Steinbrueck, sous chef, the café has no plans of slowing down. "We have a lot of things planned for Fresh Gatherings. We will be BBQing with local proteins as well as using our new stone oven to cook pizzas. We are even going to be selling local popcorn. We have a culinary camp during the summer and the kids will have more interaction with the chefs this year. With the Fresh Gatherings Harvest around the corner, I have been in contact with different farmers and gearing up for our own farm to open. I'm excited."
Next time you are on the Medical Center Campus at SLU, stop in Fresh Gatherings Café and see what all the buzz is about!
To learn more about this innovative program offered by the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics in the Doisy College of Health Sciences, please contact the department via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 314.977.8523. Information can also be found at http://freshgatherings.slu.edu