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Seasoned Chef and On Site General Manager Enhance O’Dowd Cafeteria Food Service

As a result, O’Dowd students, faculty and staff are enjoying healthy, delicious lunch options such as quesadillas filled with roasted poblano peppers, baby kale and salsa verde, free-range grilled chicken tikka pita with cucumber yogurt, and flatbread pizza squares topped with marinated artichokes, red onion, sausage and fontina cheese.

Students can also enjoy breakfast, including organic oatmeal, yogurt parfaits with fresh local berries and homemade granola, and seasonal fruit cups, from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and during morning break, and after school snacks that include smoothies made with fruits, vegetables and yogurt.

Founded in 2003, Epicurean Group is one of the first food service companies to be certified as a Bay Area Green Business, recognized for community environmental responsibility, resource conservation and pollution prevention.

The company follows environmentally and socially responsible management practices. Everything is made from scratch, not from cans. And Epicurean Group’s artisan approach supports local, organic farms and ranches and the sustainable seafood model of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

“This is a scratch kitchen. Everything is made in house, including stocks and dressings,” DiPietro said. “And the meats used in sandwiches are roasted and sliced here.”

One of the unique aspects of the Epicurean-O’Dowd partnership is that produce grown in the school’s Living Lab is incorporated in menu selections. Also, the Living Lab Club and Chef Alfredo work together to create a weekly Living Lab soup. Recent offerings included roasted tomato and kale and butternut squash soup.

And Chef Alfredo provides fruit and vegetable trimmings from the kitchen for the Living Lab chickens and compost bins.

DiPietro handles administrative duties and works the front of the house, which allows Chef Alfredo to focus on working with his staff to execute menus.

While some food service providers create three or even six month menu plans, Epicurean designs menus by the week.

“We get reports from our produce vendors every week and they advise us of availability. We want products that are fresh and in abundance,” DiPietro said.

Chef Alfredo has worked for Epicurean for seven years and during that time has served as chef at Carondelet, Head Royce and Sacred Heart Cathedral schools.

However, he has been cooking since he was 16 years old and working in kitchens for 22 years. “I worked with different chefs, plating, sautéing and grilling, and I loved watching them create beautiful, flavorful dishes. They gave me inspiration,” he said.

He hopes to foster healthy eating habits among students by introducing them to grains such as quinoa, farrow and brown rice, and high-quality proteins. And he offers a vegetarian or vegan option on the menu every day.

You can find the weekly cafeteria menu on the students and parents page of O’Dowd website. Epicurean also provides catering for school and private events held on campus. Parents, faculty and staff can contact DiPietro directly for any catering needs.

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