There comes a point in almost every student’s life, stripped for cash and down in the Ramen-and-Little-Debbie doldrums, when they have walked by super swanky eateries on a late-night Georgetown romp and fantasized about eating there instead of TDR. Wouldn’t it be nice to have those five-star entrees brought to campus in a silver (well, steel) trough, even?
Come Fall 2007, AU is promising current and prospective students one better, deciding to stop outsourcing TDR’s management and instead relinquishing control to five-star celebrity chef and number 89 on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list, Wolfgang Puck.
Multimillionaire Puck, keen on using his celebrity for more than just selling soup, has had the eating habits of malnourished college students on his mind since publishing the critically acclaimed culinary self-help book, “Don’t Drop the Soup,” the first of its kind. After extensive research and a nationwide search for the dining hall most crying out for his help, Puck settled on TDR for its capital location and tremendous potential as the site of his newest culinary experiment.
“After we researched what college students were eating for the book, we were appalled,” spokeswoman for Puck Shelly Miraman said. “Wolfgang knew he had to do something about it, to use his superstar power and culinary genius for good.”
Puck has already started planning a wallet- and student-friendly menu for the upcoming year, incorporating his Spago house specialties and some of his own personal favorites. Puck and his creative team have also taken students with special dietary needs into account, planning to make at least a third of the entrees vegan-friendly. But that doesn’t mean that old favorites have been forgotten.
“Students can expect to see traditional comfort food, but with a creative new twist. Like ‘Caprese Macaroni and Cheese,’ with melted mozzarella, sun dried cherry tomatoes and fresh basil,” Miraman said. “Wolfgang also wants to add a pasta bar and desert bar that features gelato and tiramisu, baklava and streusel, among other international desserts.”
The menu is not the only thing being overhauled. With the help of the interior designers behind the d?cor in Puck’s own Spago, TDR will undergo a major facelift. Students will waltz from fois gras to stuffed portabella mushrooms over hardwood and carpeted floors, taking their selections back to linen-covered tables under dim lighting and amid modern art and fine-dining appropriate music.
“We believe that every meal should be an experience, and that atmosphere definitely contributes to the dining experience,” Miraman said. “Just because you’re a college student using a meal plan doesn’t mean you should have to forfeit flavor or ambience. An environment that respects the students as valued diners will in turn command respect for keeping it clean and classy.”
There are even plans for a baby grand piano and harp to enhance said ambience on Monday and Thursday nights. Puck is also extending TDR’s evening hours until 10 p.m. seven nights a week.
“Who eats before eight? That’s not very European. And Wolfgang, well ... he’s Austrian,” Miramar said.