Fresh-from-the-oven bread, along with handcrafted donuts, malasadas and pasta made from scratch are available every week at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Gateway Café, managed by Sodexo.
“I really like it a lot,” said Jade Gutierrez, a UH Mānoa freshman. “The bread is super moist, rather than being dry, and the pasta is really good. It’s pretty much cooked perfectly every time.”
Gutierrez’s classmate, sophomore Kassidi Lee, agrees.
“The bread is perfect, you have to eat it with the butter,” said Lee. “I come and get the bread every single day.”
Every morning, Tomas “Mathew” Amorin, a sous chef at Gateway Café, makes 85 pounds of bread to serve for lunch. The in-house sourdough bread, made with a starter that is five to six-years-old, is also low glycemic as opposed to non-sourdough bread.
“We’re still getting used to matching demand for our currently high customer volume—this is the busiest year I’ve seen yet,” said Ed Costa, head chef at Gateway Café. “We are making bread every day, but it doesn’t always last throughout the meal—it’s very popular!”
Along with the sourdough bread, Sodexo has opted to make an assortment of goods that include: donuts, malasadas, focaccia, bread rolls, rigatoni, bigoli, pappardelle, chittara, macaroni, pasta sheets (used for lasagna and cannelloni), ramen and udon.
“It’s a move in the right direction: our freshly made breads and pastas are better for you than the store-bought equivalents, they cost less to make, they’re certainly tastier and higher quality and they create a smaller carbon footprint than mass manufactured products,” said Costa.
Sodexo has been making its own bread at Gateway Café since reopening last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before then, chefs made it at Hale Aloha for several years.
Gateway Café is also selling its sourdough loaves for $6 each. In the future, Costa is hoping to get a bread slicer to pre-slice the loaves for deli sandwiches.
Saving money, time
Sodexo saves about $96 dollars per day by making its own pasta, which equates to nearly $2,000 saved every month. Ramen noodles cost almost eight times more to purchase premade, while regular Italian pasta noodles cost nearly four times more than making the pasta from scratch.
Almost everyday at Gateway Café, chefs make a vegan pasta with pesto and a vegetarian pasta with vodka sauce. They are some of the most popular dishes, selling about 800 portions daily.
By increasing their use of the pasta machine and changing up production techniques, Gateway Café uses 100% of its own pasta noodles for dishes. The pasta machine creates noodles that cook in about 1/5th of the time it takes to cook store bought pasta. The machine also does most of the work—it automatically cuts the short pastas such as rigatoni, giving workers the opportunity to multi-task.
“Making our own bread and pasta is the beginning of my process of re-examining everything we make in order to improve our overall food quality,” said Costa. “In a way, it’s a movement away from consumerism and toward a focus on quality products.”