UNM Food was recently awarded second place in the inaugural West Division Residential Showdown for their spring event, LaPo Goes Global. 

The event showcased food from six different countries, a world map for students to pin their birthplace, and an oversized and colorful globe chalk mural. Menus featured authentic cuisine from Chile, Greece, Japan, Morocco, Italy and India.

Thea Evans, UNM Food director of marketing had a clear vision when it came to selecting a theme and ambiance for the event that celebrated the unique stories of the UNM culinary staff.

West Division Regional Showdown
(l. to r.): Paul Wilson-Scott, resident district manager, UNM Food, Thea Evans, UNM Food marketing director, and Joe Fischioni, Chartwells Higher Education West Division president, with the second place award for the West Division Regional Showdown for the event LaPo Goes Global.

“The idea of LaPo Goes Global actually stemmed from the diversity of our culinary team,” said Evans. “Our executive chef is from Morocco and our sous chef is from Chile. That inspired us to take the event to the next level and feature cuisines from all around the world.”

The timing of the event was also a welcome highlight at the end of the semester. LaPo Goes Global was held in May in the La Posada Plaza and open to everyone. “With the semester coming to an end, we really wanted to put on a monotony breaker for the students,” said Evans. “Something that they could enjoy the nice weather we had been having, meet new friends, take their minds off the looming stress of finals, and try new cuisines from around the world.”

The Residential Showdown is a competition for university food services operated by Chartwells Higher Education. The West Division consists of nearly 50 university partnerships throughout 14 states. Event submissions were judged by a panel comprised of members from the Central Support Team of Chartwells Higher Education. This included Lisa McEuen, CEO, Joe Fischioni, division president, Salli Darden vice president of marketing & communications, Henry Howard, national director of marketing, Laura Lapp, vice president of culinary & wellness, and Joe Labombarda, corporate executive chef.

The panel used the five brand pillars of Chartwells Higher Education as judging criteria. These include People, Cuisine, Culture, Community, and Ideas. Detailed objectives evaluated for each submission included menu creativity, guest satisfaction, participation rates, campus partnerships, charitable organizations, and student engagement, and operational efficiencies.

“LaPo Goes Global was an event that truly celebrated diversity and authenticity,” explains Sean Armstrong, Chartwells West Division regional marketing director. “The judging panel was very impressed with the menu engineering behind UNM Food’s execution. What really stood out to them was that our UNM Food associates were invited to present native dishes from their respective countries during the event. That type of engagement and commemoration was wonderful.”

Students were also pleased with the special event rating the event a 4.6 out of 5 specifically identifying their appreciation for the diversity and food quality.