UW’s best kept secret explodes with new flavour

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The newest addition to Food Services, Southside Marketplace (SSMP), opened April 11 to mild reaction. This is not due to lack of quality, but rather its relatively unknown location and poor timing. SSMP opened at the beginning of the exam season and could not rely on daily lunch rushes. Additionally, the former Food Services location, Festival Fare, located at the same area upstairs at South Campus Hall, was previously known as &ldquo;UW&rsquo;s best kept secret,&rdquo; and was often uncrowded due to its restricted hours.&nbsp;</p>

SSMP features new and old cuisine selections including pho, ramen, Lebanese dishes, artisanal pizza, specialty coffee, dessert, and more. The space is shared with the new Velocity Start program but is open to all students from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to the Food Services website, the Brewed Awakening section, offering coffee, Fresh Xpress items, and snacks, will be open later into the evening. 

Gordon Cooledge, executive chef at Food Services, gave Imprint an in-depth tour of Southside Marketplace. Cooledge explained that the remodeling was a partnership with Velocity: “We wanted food that is going to match [an entrepreneurship café], but also match our model of local, fresh, and healthy foods.”

SSMP has five distinct stations: The Chef and The Farmer, Paramount, Pho Show, Sushi, and Brewed Awakening. 

The Chef and the Farmer is all locally sourced or farmed, and prepared in-house. Separated into two divisions, there is the gourmet pizza with in-house made bread, in-house prepped bacon and other meats, locally sourced cheese, and fresh produce toppings such as roasted beets or roasted butternut squash. The other side is the locally sourced steam table concepts with dishes such as pulled pork or the daily vegan special. “We have about 40 different items that are on a rotation,” Cooledge said. There is also freshly made soup, such as the fire-roasted tomato and red pepper soup, featured during the tour. “It’s done with local tomatoes, greenhouse at this time of year obviously. We fire roast them, smoke them a little bit, and make a cream soup out of it.” 

Paramount is the Lebanese selection of food items. “[It was] something we’ve been lacking on campus,” Cooledge commented. “If you go to the plaza next door, we have seven places you can buy [shawarma], but not on campus. So obviously there was a need for that.” SSMP was looking for the best quality they could find. After a recommendation, Cooledge visited Paramount in Mississauga where he met with the president and a collaboration was formed. Cooledge and Food Services were not interested in frozen chicken that could be heated up on a grill. Instead, the iconic chicken spit can be seen from the cafeteria roasting in the kitchen. 

The sushi available at SSMP is worked on by two full-time staff. It can be made to order or picked up pre-made as seen around campus. “It’s all made here,” said Cooledge, “It’s also made here for the whole campus, we make it and ship it to the rest of [UW]. We’re not bringing it in from London anymore. It’s made every morning right here and shipped every single day.” Food Services is also looking to expand their sushi lineup, with talks of sashimi and seaweed dishes. 

At Pho Show, customization is everything. Guests are free to choose their vegetables and the amounts, as well as the type of noodles they want. They can also choose which stock to have; a freshly made Pho broth or a vegan miso broth. There is also the choice of an added meat (chicken, beef or shrimp) or tofu. All of the vegetables available are locally sourced and fresh, or locally sourced and frozen. There is likely to be a seasonal change of vegetable choices, but some items, such as onions or carrots, will be available year round. 

Lastly is Brewed Awakening, where coffee and loose leaf tea is available, as well as cappucinos and lattes. Desserts not found around campus, such as crème brûlée, are also available. The only other place on-campus to find crème brûlée is at the University Club. 

Festival Fare, the former Food Services location in SCH, was closed last April. It was a spot where guests could get full course meals, but was a much smaller space. The hours were greatly restricted as compared to SSMP, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and only offered a lunch menu. “It was obviously old, decrepit, and rundown,” Cooledge stated. “[It] was originally our main catering kitchen, [but] when Fed Hall opened, they moved from here over to [there] … so we needed to find a use for this kitchen and repurpose it.” 

SSMP’s kitchen has been producing the Grab and Go items found around campus, but from that it was revitalized into the servery it is now. “[Festival Fare was] an old-style steam table concept … we just wanted to do something more local, more small, more sustainable, more fun, more fresh, more interesting.” 

Southside Marketplace is an exceptional addition to food locations on campus, but much like Festival Fare, it remains relatively unknown to the campus populace. Walking through the   first floor of South Campus Hall, it is easy to not notice the Paramount sign, or the SSMP banner. 

Imprint’s tour was during a lunch rush, but even thereafter students were coming in. When asked if SSMP will continue on the legacy of “UW’s best kept secret,” Cooledge commented. “It’s early yet … so it’s still early to know. We plan on doing a lot of marketing, and the partnership with Velocity will help create some tract. You can see, it’s the first day back and it’s packed, so that’s obviously a good sign.”