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Where Science Meets Culinary Art

Not only do students in the Dietetic Technology program at the Thompson School of Applied Science learn about the nutritional properties of food, they get to prepare and serve it at a grab-and-go style café right here on campus. Stacey’s Express in Cole Hall is open for lunch every Tuesday from 11:30 to 12:30 during the school year.

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Dietetic Technology students Leah Schwenke, Taylor Duggan, and George Tilton work the serving line.

Named for Stacey W. Cole ‘41, a Thompson School graduate and generous supporter of the University of New Hampshire, Stacey’s Express has been in operation since 1987. Patrons are welcome to enjoy freshly made items like soup, paninis, and jambalaya to-go or gather in the common area with ample tables and chairs adjacent to the gleaming commercial kitchen where the students have been preparing lunch since morning.

As one of the Thompson School’s hands-on two-year degree programs in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture at the University of New Hampshire, Dietetic Technology prepares students to take a national exam that will enable them to become registered dietetic technicians. With a range of professional options from large institutional settings to smaller community-based operations, dietetic technicians counsel their patients on eating healthfully within budgetary constraints.

The experiential nature of Stacey’s Express enables students to put into practice what they’re learning before graduation. This invaluable education gives students the opportunity to take on every job necessary to make the system work. “Each week, one person serves as a dietetic consultant, using food analysis software to make the nutritional label,” says Julienne Guyette, Lecturer in Culinary Arts and Nutrition. The other students in the cohort are assigned to preparing the soup, salad, or dessert and working as the cashier or dishwasher, and the job duties rotate throughout the semester.

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Chef and Lecturer of Culinary Arts and Nutrition, Julienne Guyette (on right) with student Jessie Hook.

“The students have already had their basic culinary class, called Food Fundamentals,” says Guyette. “Now they’re using those basic cooking techniques – preparing a compound roux for cream of broccoli soup, for example – and putting it all together into nutritional cuisine.” The variety of duties in and out of the kitchen is an accurate reflection of the professional life of a dietetic technician, who must be proficient in many areas including developing and costing healthy recipes based on determining the yields of the usable portion of food (minus peels, tops, and skin, etc.) as well as preparing a delicious and artful meal.

- Victoria Forester Courtland