AMHERST, Mass. – Dining Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will host a grand opening of the newly remodeled Hampshire Dining Commons in the Southwest Residential Area on Tuesday, Sept. 10. There will be an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 6:30 p.m.
Three guest chefs will be on hand to celebrate the event. Chef Mai Pham of Sacramento, Calif., will showcase South East Asian dishes; chef Jehangir Mehta of New York, will prepare Indian cuisine, and chef Bruno Wehren of Orlando, Fla., will be on hand to cook world-class Mediterranean inspired meals. More than 3,500 students and guests are expected to attend the grand opening celebration.
Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary enterprises, said his goal is to make Hampshire Dining Commons one of the healthiest and most sustainable dining operations in the nation. “This can be accomplished by serving minimally processed foods and more plant-based items at peak season, less red meat, more sustainable seafood and healthier oils, fats and beverages,” Toong says.
The state-of-the-art facility will have a contemporary New England theme with 12 concepts designed around UMass Dining Services’ four guiding principles: healthy eating, sustainability, world flavors and community, Toong says.
The ceremony marks the completion of a two-year, $15.5 million revitalization of the 46,000-square-foot facility, originally constructed in 1966. It has the capacity to serve up to 650 students at one time. The newly refurbished dining hall is expected to ease demand at the recently renovated and highly popular Berkshire Dining Commons. In addition, it provides increased capacity for the additional 1,500 students who are living in the new Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community that opened this fall.
Toong noted that Hampshire Dining Commons is designed to complement rather than compete with nearby Berkshire Dining Commons. The two dining commons should be viewed as part of a single food service experience for the Southwest area of campus that allows for an expanded palette of themes and food service delivery ideas, he says.
The designer and architect for the project is Bergmeyer Associates, Inc., of Boston, and the contractor is Shawmut Design & Construction.