Mystery Meat? No Way. It’s Gourmet all the Way at Aquinas Cafes

Talk to your parents about dorm food. Chances are, they don’t have happy memories.

After all, back in the day, tater tots were a big deal.

They’re still great, but cafeterias have come a long way since then. Don’t believe it? Take a peek at the Aquinas College Dining Services menu any day of the week.

Pork BBQ sliders. Popcorn chicken. Beef and vegetable curry. Specially made deli sandwiches. Pizza from scratch. Pumpkin dessert bar for your all-spice, autumnal goodies.

And, of course, Taco Tuesday.

The food is prepared under the expert eye of Chef Andy Schultz. Known as Chef Andy, he’s determined to end college dining stereotypes of mystery meat.

“I just like to bring in fresh, local ingredients,” he said. “Ninety percent of the ingredients for dishes we provide in the kitchen are from scratch. I can tell a difference, and the students and clients we’re serving can tell the difference.”

You probably don’t want to know, but Chef Andy knows where the turkey lived that’s now in your sandwich (the West Michigan Turkey co-op); who mixed the ranch dressing on your salad (Litehouse in Lowell); and where the oregano grew for Sunday’s spaghetti sauce (Michigan Fine Herbs in Shelbyville).

Nothing against your parents, but we bet they didn’t know where their tater tot grew.

The differences don’t stop at food at Aquinas College and Michigan’s 15 independent colleges and universities. Proudly different, the schools march to their own beat, emphasizing community over crowds and experience over the latest passing whim.

Despite what you may have heard, the private colleges are among the most affordable in the Midwest. That’s because more than 93 percent of students receive financial aid, lowering advertised tuition and bringing actual costs on par with many public universities.

That means education is not only priceless. It’s affordable too — one of many differences with traditional universities.

Unlike big state schools, class sizes are small and taught by incredible faculty who help students forge their own path. They have a deep and committed network of alumni who help after graduation. It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.