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05/25/16

Wisconsin Union Features New Vegetarian Dish at Ginger Root

A new, sustainable, vegetarian dish, created through a UW-Madison collaboration, will be available at the Wisconsin Union’s Ginger Root regularly in fall 2016 and occasionally throughout this summer.

Guests enjoyed “Crispy, Golden Tofu” at Ginger Root in Union South for one week in April. This sustainable dish was created by Badgers, for Badgers.

The product arose from a collaboration among the Wisconsin Union dining services team, the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) Office of Sustainability, and a group of UW-Madison undergraduate students studying dietetics.

The Wisconsin Union began with a mission: collaborate to create a sustainable, new dish that everyone will enjoy. They succeeded with a tofu dish that exceeded sales expectations and had guests saying, “This is tofu?!”

Monica Theis, a senior lecturer in the UW-Madison Department of Food Science, and Tom Bryan, a UW-Madison Office of Sustainability graduate student, led the group of undergraduates through a project to develop a recipe for a plant-based dish. The chosen recipe was a crispy, savory tofu creation with a sweet and spicy note.

After developing the product in Babcock Hall last semester, the tofu recipe was first scaled up to crowd-size proportions on March 24. This test, which took place in Union South’s Ginger Root kitchen, gave students and Union staff insight into producing the tofu recipe in large quantities.

After making some changes, the team prepared to introduce the dish on April 25, which also marked the start of Earth Week.

Tofu has only one-fourth of the carbon footprint of its chicken counterpart. This means that not only is the recipe a delicious option for vegetarian Wisconsin Union members, but it also can make a positive impact on the environment. The team wanted to show customers how easily they can make one day a week meatless without sacrificing taste.

The Wisconsin Union team will offer the “Crispy, Golden Tofu” at Ginger Root on various days through summer 2016 and will establish a regular availability schedule for the popular dish in fall 2016.

For more information on dining at the Wisconsin Union, visit union.wisc.edu/dine.