Rachel Pounds is the new director of dining services for Fresh Ideas, a local food company that William Woods University partners with to provide food for Tucker Dining Hall and the Owl’s Nest. Pounds has a passion for the hospitality industry and is committed to creating a dining experience that is educational, diverse, and student-focused. She settles for nothing less than the best and brings a smile to everything she does.
Recently, Pounds sat down with Emily Barker ’19 to answer 5 Questions.
Q1: What excites you about Fresh Ideas and William Woods?
Fresh Ideas is a really great company to work for, not only because they treat their employees well, but they also try and exceed expectations in anything they do. There are always things changing in the food and hospitality business and Fresh Ideas always tries to stay up to date with those changes and trends.
We always try to listen to what the students, faculty, and staff want. It’s a really nice company to work for because they really do try and accommodate people’s needs and wants.
William Woods treats the Fresh Ideas employees like family. This is an amazing campus with a wonderful atmosphere.
Q2: How do you deal with food allergies or special dietary needs?
At the beginning of each semester, we highly encourage students, faculty, and staff who have special dietary needs or food allergies to come and talk to either Chef Zach Wells or me. You also have the option to email us, message us on Facebook, or post on our Facebook wall if they feel more comfortable talking to us that way. People can often find us walking around Tucker during meal periods and we would be more than happy to accommodate your specific needs and help put together food options that fit your dietary requirements.
We also have allergen clings that we put on our food every day to help notify people if there are peanuts or another type of allergen in the food, but we still encourage you to ask about the ingredients if you’re unsure if it meets your specific needs.
Q3: What food do you think William Woods students like the best?
It’s, of course, Chicken Finger Fridays! I mean, who doesn’t love chicken fingers with mashed potatoes and gravy?
I honestly think people would come at us with torches if we ever got rid of Chicken Finger Friday. During Lent, we serve this meal on Thursdays instead of Fridays and that first week always gives students a mini heart attack.
Q4: What is something about the food at William Woods that you wish students knew?
I really wish students would think outside the box when it came to food. For example, if Tucker is serving chicken fingers, corn, mashed potatoes, and rice, students could combine the different items and make a chicken finger wrap or a breaded chicken and rice salad.
I’m hoping to do a LEAD event in the future to show students how to utilize the salad bar, the meat and cheese bar, the panini maker, and the different types of wraps and breads we offer, and how to take those items and combine them with what’s being served during the meal period.
Before you get in line, make sure you look around and see everything that’s being served that day. Then get creative. Chef Zach and I walk around Tucker during meal periods to help assist students with creating new things using the food that’s being served already.
Never be afraid to come up and ask us for advice or help. Especially Chef Zach, as he can help create a lot of fun and different options!
I’d also like more people to be aware of the Fresh Ideas food truck. Anyone can book it for events and do fun things like dessert bars, burger and fries, veggie bowls, etc. It’s a different food atmosphere that people enjoy.
Q5: Last year a pizza oven was added to the dining hall, are there any new additions for the future?
This year we are trying to exceed expectations this year by bringing in new creations and trending foods. Last spring, I was lucky enough to be chosen by our company to attend a trip to Chicago where we were able to explore and experience different food styles and new food trends. Through this experience, I was able to come up with some ideas on how to modernize some of the meals served in Tucker.
Last year we added the trattoria pasta station, but we are going to try and change it up this upcoming year and offer toasted ravioli, lasagna, and other types of Italian dishes.
We are going to create a “build your own” Mongolian Grill, where everything will already be heated and students will just have to put it all together. This is something that is currently trending in the food industry and we want to bring it to campus.
We also want to do more in the mornings to get students interested, so we’re thinking about doing breakfast pizza. We recently redesigned the Owl’s Nest and want to continue making that coffee shop a great location for students.
To keep things exciting, we are also scheduling “Monotony Breakers” every week. They could be everything from a lemonade bar to an ice cream sundae station to a make-your-own-trail-mix station. Things that the William Woods community will enjoy.