WASHINGTON — Three school systems in Northern Virginia are rolling out a new “fast-casual” cafeteria option that lets students design their own bowls and wraps and that uses a trendy French style of cooking.
The Café + Teria concept, which is offered by Sterling, Virginia-based Cuisine Solutions, is designed to mirror fast-casual restaurant, such as Chipotle or Cava. Students select ingredients and customize their meals by picking a base of grain, salad or a wrap; their choice of protein; and toppings of vegetables, cheese and sauces.
The option, which was launched last year as a pilot project in three Arlington County high schools is now expanding to high schools in Loudoun County and Alexandria, according to a company news release.
The fast-casual option offers different flavors of cuisine, including Mexican, Indian, Asian, Mediterranean and Caribbean, which the company said helps cut back on “menu fatigue.”
Another twist is that some of the ingredients are prepared using the sous-vide method, in which food is vaccuum-sealed and then slow-cooked in water at a precise temperature over an extended period of time.
Cuisine Solutions pioneered the style of cooking, which is now commonly used in high-end restaurants and Starbucks alike.
School nutrition officials say the new option allows schools to broaden menu options and give students more opportunities for customized meals.
The Café + Teria fast-casual option is being offered at three high schools in Arlington: Wakefield, Yorktown and Washington-Lee.
In Loudoun County, the school system’s new science- and tech-focused Academies of Loudoun, which serves about 1,600 students, will roll out the new dining option. The school system also plans to expand it to more of its high schools this year.
In Alexandria, the option will be offered daily at T.C. Williams High School’s King Street Campus and will travel to various secondary schools in the city throughout the year.