On Sunday, March 22, The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips Executive Chef Eric Batten competed before a live audience at The National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) Midwest Region Culinary Challenge. Sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), the competition recognizes outstanding food preparation and presentation skills in collegiate dining services.

During the Culinary Challenge, nine competitors prepared complete meals featuring buffalo flank. Chef Batten prepared “Deconstructed Taco – Smoked Buffalo Flank,” made with pickled pico, roasted corn masa points, tostones and adobo sauce.

“I really like south of the border flavors,” said Chef Batten. I have fair knowledge of the profile—it's what I like to cook, so I aimed for that direction.”

Chef Batten earned an ACF silver medal, placing second in the competition. “I am most proud of the flavors of my dish,” Chef Batten said. “I know it tasted great. During the critique with the judges, they made a comment that my total flavor was spot-on and my sauce was the best sauce they have tasted during a competition in a long time. That works for me!”

Chef Batten prepared for the competition for months. “I practiced a lot,” said Chef Batten. “I competed in a few NACUFS competitions in my early career. The best advice I got was practice, just like it if it was a musical instrument, sport, etc. Practice until you can do it naturally.”

Culinary Services is very proud of Chef Batten! Congratulations!

Chef Batten with his silver medal and NACUFS Culinary Challenge certificate


By Peggy Crum, MA, RD, Health4U Nutritionist

Olive OilThanks to recent debunking of low-fat recommendations, we can now eat olive oil and other fats without trepidation. At the heart of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats. Yet olive oil does not have a lock on monounsaturated fats. Other oils such as canola and peanut are also very good sources. Olive oil’s uniqueness is that it is extracted from fruit while other oils come from dry grains and nuts. Olives are harvested when they are just beginning to turn from green to purple, the stage when they have reached their peak of fruitiness and have that highly valued green aroma.

Oil from the first cold pressing of the olives is the most delicate and stable. The green-gold color comes from fragments of fruit and leaves giving the oil not only color but also phytonutrients and flavor. This oil is labeled “extra virgin olive oil, first cold press.” More oil is extracted with additional pressings and may be labeled “extra virgin olive oil” or “virgin olive oil” depending on its free fatty acid content. Heat treating the remaining olive paste allows more oil to be extracted; this refined oil is labeled “pure” and is often blended with virgin oil to give it flavor.

When it comes to storage, the unrefined nature of virgin olive oils is both desirable and undesirable. Their stability comes from the antioxidants that give them their beautiful color and flavor. Yet this same color makes them vulnerable to damage from light. Bottom line, store extra virgin olive oil in opaque containers away from sunlight and heat.

Reserve richly flavored extra virgin olive oil for making vinaigrettes and hummus, drizzling on vegetables, and dipping bread. For uses involving heat, you could use pure olive oil but the smoke point of olive oil is only 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on desired flavor, you could choose canola or peanut oil. They are less flavorful but tolerate more heat.

Join Culinary Services Corporate Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski from 12:10 - 12:50 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, at the Demonstration Kitchen in Brody Square as he demonstrates his olive oil poached chicken recipe during the Health4U Recipe for Health program. Try the chicken during lunch at Brody Square, Riverwalk Market at Owen Hall and The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips.

Can’t make it to Brody Square for the event? Join us online for an MSU Alumni Association LENS live stream presentation. Learn more by watching this trailer and view the live stream here:


The Gallery at Snyder Phillips executive chef, Eric Batten, earned top honors at the 25th annual Taste of Elegance held by the Michigan Pork Producers Association at the Lansing Center. The cooking competition was held on February 19 in conjunction with the 2015 Pork and Poultry Symposium.

Chef Batten competed against chefs from all over the state of Michigan to create an original pork entrée. Dishes were judged by Executive Chef Jim Morse from the Boathouse Restaurant in Traverse City; Amanda Smith, executive director of the Michigan Restaurant Association; and Gordon Wenk, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Chef Batten prepared the winning dish: Adobo Smoked Pork Belly, featuring a smoked pork belly with adobo sauce and avocado rillettes. The judges described Chef Batten’s dish as tender with a well-executed balance of classic Latin flavors, acidity and heat. Chef Batten was named Chef Par Excellence, received $1,000 dollars and earned a trip to the National Taste of Elegance Educational Summit at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in St. Helena, Calif.

Chef Batten's Adobo Smokes Pork Belly dish.
Chef Batten's Adobo Smokes Pork Belly dish.

“For the last nine years it has been my mission and my pleasure to share the story and success of MSU Culinary Services,” said Chef Batten. “It was a great honor to represent Culinary Services and Michigan State University and to lead with excellence.”

Chef Batten has participated in the Taste of Elegance competition for a number of years and has earned additional titles including Premium Chef.

Chef Batten pictured with his family at Taste of Elegance.
Chef Batten pictured with his family at Taste of Elegance.

Culinary Services Corporate Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski also competed in the Taste of Elegance competition. Chef Kwiatkowski’s Mangalitsa Dynasty dish, a micro three-course meal including a cake with pig fat frosting, earned the Taste of Elegance People’s Choice award, judged by the public as the most aesthetically pleasing dish.


By Gina Keilen, Culinary Services Registered Dietitian

We are all on-the-go more times than not, and what’s a quick, portable snack? Granola bars. They travel well and can last on your shelf for a bit too. They come in all sizes, flavors, and with different nutritional claims so there is one bound to fit your wildest dreams. But how healthy are they, or is it really more like eating a candy bar?

One of the biggest offenders against a healthier granola bar is its level of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 24 grams of sugar (6 teaspoons) daily for women and no more than 36 grams of sugar (9 teaspoons) daily for men. Sugar doesn’t do much of anything for you nutritionally, but it is usually added for taste. Too much sugar can leave you feeling tired, contribute to weight gain, and make you crave more sugar-based foods leaving you in a downward spiral.

When looking for a good granola bar, there are a few things to consider:

  • Check out the ingredients list. They should be simple ingredients that you can read and pronounce. Those packed with whole grains, fruits and nuts and those without hydrogenated oil will give you the most benefit nutritionally.
  • Check out the sugar amounts. When granola bars are dipped in chocolate or have caramel in the middle, you are flirting with it being more of a candy bar. Look for those with less than 10 grams of sugar, and if there is sugar, try to get those that come from more natural sources like honey or agave.
  • Check out the protein amounts. This doesn’t mean you need to only get the protein-added bars or those for performance, but having 5-6 grams per bar will help you feel more full for a longer time and give you the energy you need for your long classes.  
  • Check out the fiber amounts. Snacks are meant to hold you over until your next meal and that’s exactly what fiber can help you do. Aim for at least 3 grams per bar.

Luckily, Sparty’s has you stocked … try one of their many varieties of KIND bars, Bear Naked Bars, Quaker Real Medley Bars, among others that are a great way to get a healthful snack in.

Gina Keilen pull quote

Gina Keilen is a registered dietitian and culinary coordinator for Culinary Services. If you have food allergies or intolerances, or are required to follow a special diet, Gina can help provide you with resources and information to help you make safe choices while still having a great dining experience when you Eat at State. Gina can also help you to eat healthy—our dining halls offer an incredible amount of all-you-care-to-eat options. Since many of our platforms offer made-to-order dining, you are in control of what you eat and how much, and Gina can help you decide what is right for you.


As the cold winter days continue on MSU’s campus, our on-campus Starbucks locations are introducing new selections to warm you up.

For a limited time, try the new Tiramisu Latte combining Starbucks’ signature espresso with hints of creamy mascarpone. A returning favorite, the Caramel Flan Latte is back with notes of creamy caramel flan and made with Starbucks’ signature espresso, freshly steamed milk and topped with caramel-infused whipped cream and caramelized sugar drizzle. Both are also available as a Frappuccino.

Caramel Flan Latte, Double-Smoked Bacon & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich and Tiramisu Latte

Pair your beverage with the Chocolate Caramel Muffin—a moist chocolate muffin infused with caramel and topped with sugar. Or, try the new Butterfly Cookie or the Double-Smoked Bacon & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich on a croissant bun.
Whole bean Starbucks Espresso Roast is available at Starbucks at Well Hall. This rich and caramelly sweet signature dark roast is a blend of beans from Latin America and Asia Pacific. For a limited time, the 16 fl. oz. Espresso Chalkboard Tumbler and the “Roasting” Coffee Series Mug (fourth in a series of eight) are available for purchase.

Chocolate Caramel Muffin, Butterfly Cookie and Espresso blend

The all-time second most request Starbucks received from was to provide an alternative to dairy and soy milk. As a result, Starbucks now offers Sumatra Coconut Milk, a creamy alternative to dairy and soy for handcrafted beverages—available at all on-campus locations.

Starbucks is located at Wells Hall and the Broad College of Business, as well as the Broad Art Museum Café Proudly Serving Starbucks! Visit for our Starbucks hours of operation.