University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Vol. 70, Number 3 (Dec. 1968)

Moyer, Harriett
'Blend-in 60 gals. fresh milk',   pp. 12-16

Page 12

Photos/Gary Scht
               'Blend-in 60 gals. fresh milk"
If you're worn out from holiday cooking for an avalanche of in-laws, take
heart. You could
face the problems of Rheta McCutchin who copes with the voracious appetites
and whimsical
tastes of 3,200 students at every meal!
t's like suddenly coming upon an
   imaginary land of giants when
you walk through the University's
Gordon Commons kitchen.
  There's a salad machine that
tosses 50 gallons of mixed greens in
seconds. Three dishwashers take up
a room apiece. Twelve steam ket-
tles hold from 40 to 80 gallons
each. Three ovens can roast a total
of more than a ton. The cookie ma-
chine would overjoy any mother of
teenagers: this mechanical wonder
can spew forth 50 dozen cookies
in five minutes!
   Gordon Commons is one of the
biggest kitchens in the United
States. Meals for 3,200 students in
the southeast area of the campus
are prepared and served there.
   (Even this does not, of course,
begin to meet the needs of Madi-
son's campus. There are other,
slightly smaller kitchens in the
Union, the hospital and Lake Shore
Area residence halls. Involved in
the total residence hall food serv-
ice are 190 permanent full-time
people, 17 part-time professionals
and 1,000 student workers. Resi-
dence halls serve approximately
7,500 students a total of 150,000
meals each week!)
   Rheta McCutchin, manager of
food service for the southeast cam-
pus area, thinks primarily in terms
of pounds and gallons, in contrast
to an ordinary housewife who mea-
sures with cups, teaspoons and
  To serve one meal of pot roast
to her 3,200 students Miss Mc-
Cutchin orders 1,280 pounds of
beef. If she cooks ribs of beef, it
takes the meat of 90 cattle for
a dinner! Trucks pull into Gordon
Commons daily with 400 loaves of
bread and 600 gallons of milk.
  The University of Wisconsin is
renowned among institutions for
the excellence of its meals. Only at
this University is the meat carved
on the service line as in quality res-
taurants. Vegetables served to Wis-
consin students are pressure cooked
only minutes before they're placed
on the plates.
  Recipes are pre-tested and stan-
dardized before they are ever used.
Computers have determined the ex-
act quantity for each ingredient in
the recipes, which can be scaled to
serve a few at a buffet or the total
3,200. If the cook is to bake an ap-
ple spice cake for 60 people, she has
only to go to the computorized file
and pull out the pre-scaled recipe.
The system is uniquely the Univer-
sity's, Such quality control takes
extensive equipment and a logistics
system which would impress an
army general. Food is moved from
the central kitchen in special heat-
or cold-controlled mobile units.
Even serving something as simple
as ice cream at the right tempera-
ture involves many people and
much equipment. The ice cream is
trucked to the kitchen at -301. It is
allowed to warm-up to "dipping"
temperature in a special freezer,
then placed in individual sherbets
and transported to another unit
near the service line, where once
more the temperature is dropped to
the point where the ice cream will
be just right for eating at the end of
the meal. "If you've ever had ice
cream that turned to 'soup' while
you were -eating, you know now
that the restaurant eliminated that
last step before serving," says Miss
   Boredom, budget, and balanced
diet are a few more of the daily
challenges to Miss McCutchin and
her staff. Every housewife knows
the feeling of futility that comes
when she has gone through her
repertory of recipes without finding
a thing that sounds good or differ-
ent. Food service managers cope
with this same problem on a large
scale, and students are prone to be
even more critical than families.
Residence Halls operate on rotating
cycles, so the same dishes are not
repeated too frequently. Variety is
incorporated with seasonal pur-
chases such as apples and squash in
the fall; strawberries and asparagus
in the spring. Special ethnic meals
are featured once or twice a semes-
ter. Just recently Gordon Commons
had a South Sea Island dinner fea-
turing steak marinated in soy sauce
and ginger, Polynesian rice, and
fried bananas. Tables and the dining
Sunday crowds are lighter, so Carroll
Drambsch, assistant products manager,
can get by with 1,900 lbs. of prime ribs.

Go up to Top of Page