Let's face it, a year's worth of bland burgers and greasy fries are as welcoming an idea for returning college students as packing on the freshman 15. However, it is different for the students at Virginia Tech, who know that the dining hall experience is something to be savored.
The college, located in Blacksburg, Va., has been the recipient of several food awards over the years. The Princeton Review ranked Virginia Tech Dining Services No. 2 in the nation for Best Campus Food in 2011 and No. 3 in the nation in 2012.
"In writing A Taste of Virginia Tech, we aimed to recognize the stellar cuisine on and off campus and evoke each reader's own memories in a keepsake cookbook."
- Krista Gallagher, co-author of A Taste of Virginia Tech
Students can find quality dishes like gourmet pizza cooked in wood-fired ovens, fresh roasted coffee, and fresh farm vegetables at its 11 dining halls. Turner Place, the campus' newest dining hall, will offer made-to-order crepes, margherita pizza with a fig balsamic reduction, a teppanyaki grill, sushi, gelato, and a grill that uses fuel (no gas or electric) that is completely sourced from local hardwood, by Virginia Tech's own forestry club.
A new cookbook called A Taste of Virginia Tech (Mascot Books) compiles 80 of the best recipes in and around campus, from the dining halls, to its tailgate parties- even dishes found in restaurants on Main Street.
"We wanted to show people just exactly how good dining hall food can be...it's better than mom's cooking," said author and VT alumnus Kris Schoels, who wrote the book with fellow classmate Krista Gallagher.
Gallagher said she was inspired to write the book to show people her passion for cooking and her alma mater.
"Five years ago, my friends and I started a list entitled, 'What I would do with one more week at Virginia Tech?' More than half the items revolved around food," said Gallagher. "In writing A Taste of Virginia Tech, we aimed to recognize the stellar cuisine on and off campus and evoke each reader's own memories in a keepsake cookbook."
She secured publisher Mascot Books, got the school on board, and brought in Schoels, who is a food and entertainment personality on TV.
"The best part about this cookbook is it isn't just for Tech fans; any foodie would want these delicious recipes in their collection," Naren Aryal, CEO of Mascot Books.
The cookbook focuses on classics, like the popular London broil at the West End dining hall.
"My favorite go-to dinner, and I'm not alone in this, was the London broil and roasted garlic whipped potatoes, both topped with a red wine mushroom sauce. This is actually the most popular dish at VT," Gallagher said. "I loved soup in a sourdough bread bowl on rainy days--lobster bisque, broccoli and cheese, and the chipotle tortilla soups were my favorites."
It's hard to image that any campus would serve the pricey lobster bisque, but it's served on a daily basis at VT.
"Some of my favorite items were pretty much anything and everything from West End--from the decadent burgers, gourmet sandwiches, delicious salads, to the homemade marinara sauce with garlic bread," Schoels said.
Why is the food so special? The pair said it was just as much about the memories as the delicious culinary experience.
"I love the memories I associated with the meals I ate so often during my four years at Tech," Gallagher said. "I reached for soup when I needed comfort, pasta when I need energy to sprint the steps of Lane Stadium, and a 'Hokie Club' hanging out with my girlfriends in between classes."
"I always remember meeting up with friends for a great dinner, grabbing sandwiches before football games, or just hanging out by the homemade sugar cookies wasting time before studying. I am sure any and every alumni that you ask would say the same," Schoels said.
Find more information visit their website.