International Food Week provides students with more authentic food

nathan drezner

In addition to International Food Week, Sheng Gao ’16 has also organized other events, such as the police appearance to hand out popsicles on May 21. photo: Nathan Drezner

This June, the cafeteria’s schedule will be headlined by an international food week from June 8 until June 12, showcasing different cuisines from different countries and continents.

Food Service Director Joel Rosa and Sheng Gao ’16 have been collaborating throughout this school year on a variety of cafeteria-related projects, but this is the first weeklong program that will take place. “Princeton High School is filled with a variety of different students,” Rosa said. “[International Food Week] will call people to come down to the cafeteria and see what’s down there.”

Although the cafeteria has served meals such as nachos grande, chicken teriyaki, and chicken fajitas, Rosa said that International Food Week will be different. “[In school lunches], sometimes you have that Spanish food—but it still has that Americanized way of making it,” he said. “This [will be] more of an authentic way of making food, something that’s never been done at these schools before.”

Gao came to Rosa with several ideas over the course of the school year, starting in September, when he brought the idea to Rosa of a new way of organizing the line system in the cafeteria to expedite the purchasing process. “He wanted to help the students organize themselves better, so he gave some ideas on how we [could switch] the lines around,” Rosa said. “I got the board at Valley Road to help us purchase the stanchions. In the beginning of the year, it took almost 40 minutes to get through, and now people finish in ten.”

Gao presented the idea of International Food Week to Rosa because of what he saw as a gap between students’ tastes and the food served by the cafeteria. “I moved to the United States [during my] sophomore year, and some of my friends—they are Chinese—don’t like the cafeteria’s food,” he said.

Each day of International Food Week will have a different theme. “There’s no need to go out and try something different, [because] we have a whole variety of different things to eat right here, right in the school,” Rosa said.

According to Rosa, for International Food Week, the cafeteria will service Italian pasta puttanesca on Monday, Chinese chicken and broccoli on Tuesday, Greek moussaka on Wednesday, Mexican enchiladas on Thursday, and Polish kielbasa and potatoes on Friday. In addition, the cafeteria will offer free samples that correspond to the day’s theme, such as edamame, soybeans found in pods, on Tuesday.

The collaboration between Gao and Rosa is a small view into the expanded cooperation between the Food Services Department and students—for example, Rosa has also been meeting regularly with Youth Advisory Committees to talk about school lunch food. “[A] portion of the YAC meeting is [the students’] giving me feedback [and] criticism [about] how we can prepare our food better, customer service, [and] what we can offer the students at Princeton that we are not offering now.”


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