FSU Students enjoy a Latin-Style Lunch
September 26, 2019
Seminole Dining’s Eddie Rivera (holding plate) created a Latin-style Christmas meal for Suwannee Room diners as part of FSU’s Latinx Cultural Celebration. (From left) David Pham, Stuart Baraclough, Rivera and Michael Cook. (Photo: Tarian West)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It felt a lot like Christmas in September in Florida State University’s Suwannee Room as Seminole Dining Operations Manager Eddie Rivera whipped up a memorable meal in honor of the university’s Latinx Cultural Celebration Sept. 17.
Rivera, a native of Puerto Rico who previously owned a popular restaurant there, created the special menu and personally shopped for many foods on the list so Suwannee Room chefs could treat students to an authentic Latin-style Christmas feast.
“I got together with some of our chefs of Cuban descent, and we came up with a diverse menu that included Cuban beans, Peruvian ceviche, Mexican quesadillas, sweet plantains and the Mexican soup Posole to help celebrate the Latin festivities,” Rivera said.
The Posole was the first item student Shak Brahim spotted at Suwannee’s soup and salad bar.
“I thought the Posole was really good,” Brahim said. “I’m from Miami, so a lot of these foods on the menu are what I’m accustomed to. It was like bringing a bit of home up here to Tallahassee.”
The Latinx Cultural Celebration allowed Rivera and the Suwannee Room chefs to demonstrate the culinary creativity they bring to their work every day.
As diners surveyed menu options, they found citrus-marinated shrimp and scallops at The Chef’s Table. At the Homestyle Station, chefs dished out tender roasted pork shoulder called pernil; they served arroz con gandules, a rice and peas dish; and they were busy keeping up with demand for the irresistible sweet plantains called Maduros. The Vegetarian Station offered popular vegetable and cheese empanadas.
The lunch’s eclectic collection of Latin cuisine was a hit among diners, and it was fun for Seminole Dining chefs. Rivera said the slow-roasted pork and sweet plantains were the main dishes that made him smile as he reviewed the results of his talented team.
“These dishes remind me of being a kid opening presents at Christmas because this was the traditional Christmas Eve meal in Puerto Rico,” Rivera said. “When you’d eat this meal, you’d be thinking about opening presents the next day. It just makes me happy every time I cook these meals because it takes me back to my childhood.”
Rivera's menu included sweet plantains, pernil and arroz con gandules. (Photo: Dave Heller)
Rivera grew up on the east coast of Puerto Rico in the region of Humacao and earned a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts from the Caribbean Culinary Institute in Trinidad and Tobago. After graduation, he moved to the United States in 2002 and soon joined Sodexo as a cook at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York.
His path to Seminole Dining and the Suwannee Room, where he supervises a team of 130 employees who serve more than 5,000 meals a day, has followed a winding road through several states over the past decade.
Rivera said FSU’s food service provider Sodexo has recognized his hard work and nurtured his personal culinary and management skills.
“Sodexo has been amazing, giving me great opportunities,” Rivera said. “I was just a kid from Puerto Rico, and now I’ve worked in four different states with Sodexo. I am very grateful for the opportunities I’ve received from this company.”
FSU’s Latinx Cultural Celebration was designed to enhance cultural awareness, share stories of the Latinx community and pay tribute to the generations of Latin Americans who have made positive contributions to the nation.
The event was sponsored by FSU’s Center for Leadership and Social Change, the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Latinx Faculty Staff Network. It was held in conjunction with National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
The Peruvian ceviche featured citrus marinated shrimp and scallops. (Photo: Dave Heller)
Seminole Dining is committed to bringing a FSUnique dining experience to all Seminoles. For more information, visit, https://seminoledining.sodexomyway.com
Sodexo USA is an American business that is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Delivering more than 100 services across North America that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life, Sodexo is a leading provider of sustainable, integrated facilities management and food service operations.
It employs 123,000 Americans at 12,500 sites across the country and indirectly supports tens of thousands of additional U.S. jobs through its annual purchases of $9.2 billion in goods and services from small to large American businesses.
In support of local communities across the U.S., the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation has contributed close to $30 million over the past 20 years to help feed children in America impacted by hunger.