UC Davis is ranked number two for agriculture and forestry worldwide and number one for food science and technology. UC Davis’s Food Science program has an abundance of resources at its disposal. Thus, it’s only natural that we update the dining commons accordingly.
Chef Cesar Cienfuegos, the head chef of the Segundo Dining Commons, believes that the future of the food industry is finding alternate sources of protein. In other words, it’s time to delve into the vast realm of insects.
“We’re at the best platform here,” Chef Cesar said. “We have the resources. We have the young audience. We have the opportunity to start teaching people that it’s cool to eat crickets; it’s not that crazy to eat mealworms. The protein is there. We’re in the perfect place to educate about food. We have the chance to teach people trends, healthy, responsible eating trends.”
We need to understand the environmental impact of the foods we consume. It is important for us to become educated about alternate sources of sustainable food sources.
Chef Cesar has created a not-so traditional Mexican sope dish with one special ingredient: mealworms. The dish is a thick corn tortilla topped with a nopal salad, mealworm mix, green salsa aioli sauce, and cilantro garnish. He presented this dish at an event with the Food Literacy Center group in Sacramento at the Sacramento Public Library.
“Everyone was talking about it,” Chef Cesar said. “The dish was not accepted right way, but people were definitely talking about it.”
Chef Cesar has been working on other dishes with insects as well. He has made a sweet potato and mealworm dish and has even experimented with insect-based snacks such as apple slices with a peanut butter-dried fruit-cricket combo.
If the idea of eating crickets makes you cringe, relax. Any changes in the DC’s menu most certainly will not take place overnight. Also, don’t expect the form of insects to be hidden in your food. Chef Cesar wants students to be able to see what they are eating. The introduction of alternate sources of protein to your college dining hall will not be put into effect for another few years or so.
When the time comes for alternate protein sources to take over the Dining Commons, it won’t be an option forced upon us. Chef Cesar plans on demoing dishes of insects for the students to try. Regardless of whether or not insects are an enjoyable experience, Chef Cesar’s goal is to cause students to be impacted by it.
“If you eat it, or you don’t eat it, if you’re disgusted, or intrigued, or pleased, you’re going to walk away talking about it,” Chef Cesar said. “I want people to bring up the question ‘What’s next?'”