SSU’s Chef Eric Lee Creates Exciting Culinary Experiences at the New Student Center

SSU is lucky Executive Chef Eric Lee loves his new job.

The former Next Food Network star, with experience at Healdsburg's Simi Winery for 11 years, has been given free rein to unleash his creativity over campus dining. And, it shows.

Less than six months on the job, he has worked tirelessly to create a totally new culinary experience for the campus. Faculty and staff will join the students in a variety of options never before seen at SSU.

Here is a sneak peek of what is to come:

The new Residential Dining Room (replacing Zinfandel) features seven different stations, with one in particular that is sure to create excitement and educate students on how to better prepare meals for themselves. Faculty and staff are invited, too.

The Chef’s Demonstration Kitchen will be broken up into two different sides, including a vegetarian platform based upon one specific vegetable per meal period. Cooks will prepare a dish right in front of customers.

“We’re going to have cameras centered on both cooking areas, and on a table,” said Lee. “They’ll be able to watch and see what’s going on.”

Students will be able to learn about the product, introducing them to new foods. The station is based on the idea of a famous chef with themed dishes centered on culinary artists such as Anthony Bourdain or Mario Batali where recipes and meals will be provided for the entire day.

“They can try a little portion and see if they like it,” said Lee. “I want to really educate these kids; they are at a school, why not do that.”

Another station of interest will be Passport, featuring cuisine throughout 56 different countries and regions across the globe. The idea is to have students sample the world and to learn more about places, whether it is anything in general, indigenous ingredients, or things that are reflective of the area.

Featuring video screens above to educate about the specific country, students will also have the option to mix things up throughout the day. Whether it’s having Cajun for lunch and Indian food for dinner, to bangers and mash the next day and Caribbean jerk chicken later on, the choices will be there.

Lee also spoke about the model itself, and how he was given the broad scope to really focus in on the stations.

“We originally didn’t plan on a vegetarian platform, but I think that is really vital to this University, providing very healthy foods,” said Lee. “I’d much rather at least give them the option, let them learn about healthier eating.”

Other new venues include:

(open to all with single meal or dining meal plan

Slice features pizza and pasta. Some examples from the menu include Chicago-Style pizza, Sun-Dried Tomato, Feta, Cucumber Orzo Salad and the home-style three-cheese macaroni and cheese.

Etcetera will feature “everything else” in the residential dining section. Visit this area for treats like espresso, peach cobbler, Oreo mousse and breakfast pastries.

Flame will be one of two grill sections, featuring burgers, with a wide variety of new recipes to wow the taste buds.

Garden is the one-stop-salad shop. This mobile unit features local ingredients whenever possible, offering an eco-friendly, healthy and fresh meal option.

Sizzle is styled after a Mongolian BBQ, with the option to customize stir-fry with a selection of meats, veggies and sauces.


Overlook (formerly UClub)
Overlook replaces the University Club as the fine dining campus restaurant. Executive Chef Eric Lee says he will personally oversee meal preparations for this farm-to-table venue. Current plans are for an opening in January 2014.

Lobo's Pizza & Pub
The new Pub will have extended hours, a music/performance space and will be open from 11:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.

Weyden and Brewster
Replacing the Zinfandel Marketplace and the Commons is Weyden and Brewster which will feature grab-and-go items, made-to-order burritos, sandwiches with fresh baked bread and salads. Also offered are soups, pizza by the slice, burgers and fries. W&B, as it is now called, is named after the love interests in Jack London's novel, The Sea Wolf.

-Dylan Sirdofsky