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McMaster cafe launches pay it forward program

It’s seen as a hidden crisis at university and college campuses across the country, students who can’t afford to eat.

McMaster University’s hospitality services has started a new pay it forward initiative to help students in need.

The program called Cards for Humanity allows customers to add a dollar to purchase a card at Bridges Café that allows $3 off another student’s meal. The school has already sold all 100 cards at the cash. It’s a discreet way for some students to get the help they need.

The organizers say accessibility to food is a serious concern. Food banks in the area like the Good Shepherd’s see more students in the school year using their services. Their food bank there is servicing 100 students a month.

The average cost of tuition in Canada each year is approximately $7,000.

(This article was first published on CHCH. Read the original article - March 20, 2019)

Soup! (There it is) - With recipe

Andy Leung

Andy Leung and the McMaster team won most creative soup at Soupfest. Photo by Colin Hatherill.


Led by East Meets West Bistro assistant chef Andy Leung, the McMaster team won top prize for most creative soup at Hamilton’s annual Soupfest event in February, a fundraiser for Living Rock youth resources. The Buffalo chicken soup also placed third best overall, based on attendee voting.

“The most famous thing on campus is the Buffalo chicken wrap,” says Leung. “That’s a staple in the university world. That’s what students like, so that was an inspiration for me.”

Leung says their secret ingredient was a Tabasco “caviar” garnish: little pearls of Tabasco hot sauce generated by a chemical reaction called reverse spherification. McMaster executive chef Paul Hoag created the custom topping.

Leung developed the recipe (see below), worked out the budget and then spent an entire weekend pre-making 200 litres of soup that turned into more than 1,400 portions served at the event.

“It was a tough weekend of preparation,” he said. “One of the hardest things was to get the consistency of the soup. I had to puree two litres of the soup at a time using a Vitamix. So that was a good four to five hours of just blending.”

The East Meets West Bistro beat out about 20 other Hamilton-area restaurants for the creative prize. Visitors formed a long line in the Hamilton Convention Centre to get the vegetable puree base topped with fried chicken, ranch sauce and Tabasco pearls.

Leung says he’s not usually a big fan of competitions, but he sees the value in participating in the event.

“The best thing was to have the whole team get together and get away for a day, try something new together and help the community out and give back,” he said. “Sometimes you have to get out there to see what others are offering. We didn’t win best soup, we were third overall, but next year we’ll try again. Last year, we didn’t place for best soup. This year, third. Next year we’ll get even a little bit better. It’s all about self-improvement.”

Nine McMaster hospitality staff members volunteered to take shifts serving: John Barreda, Melanie Cottrell, Lincoln Crowe, Colin Hatherill, Hufriya Karelia, Kirsten Mak, Dixon Midigo and Michael Zhu.

  East Meets West Bistro Cream of Buffalo Chicken Soup
  • 500g finely diced carrot (apx 2C)
  • 500g finely diced celery (apx 2C)
  • 1kg finely diced onion (apx 4C)
  • 8 cloves minced garlic
  • 250g butter
  • 4 kg potatoes, peeled and diced (apx 12 medium potatoes)
  • 5L chicken stock
  • 150g Havarti cheese
  • 4 roasted red peppers (jarred)
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 4oz Tabasco Buffalo-style hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste Yield 5L
  1. Cook carrots, celery, onions and garlic in butter over low heat until soft
  2. Add chicken stock and potato
  3. Cook for 30 min until all vegetables are tender and potato broken down
  4. Add roasted red peppers and cheese
  5. Puree in blender and strain
  6. Add cream
  7. Season with Buffalo Sauce, Salt/Pepper
  8. Garnish with fried chicken, Tabasco “caviar”, ranch sauce and chives
Soupfest 2019   Soupfest 2019

(This article was first published on Daily News. Read the original article by JOANNA ZUK - March 4, 2019)

McMaster executive chef wins bronze medal at culinary world cup with Ontario team

Paul Hoag - Executive Chef
Photo by Sarah Janes

On a recent snow day, McMaster executive chef Paul Hoag was chopping onions in the Commons, pitching in to help feed thousands of residence students while some hospitality staff were snowed in at home.

It was a long way from Luxembourg, where, last November, his team won a bronze medal in the Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup, one of the largest and most important cooking competitions in the world.

Held every four years, the World Cup is the second largest international culinary competition globally, with teams from 75 nations competing in several events over five days.

The overall team event consists of many rounds, including buffet, five-course meal, three-course meal, desserts, petit-fours and sculpture.

And it was almost over right before it began.

After 18 months of fundraising, planning and practice, the 12-member team arrived in Europe only to find that their custom glass serving platters had all shattered en route. They had two days to MacGyver some replacements from an old sheet of tempered glass that used to cover a hotel desk.

“We were only half a point away from the silver,” says Hoag. “The judges commented on our scratched-up presentation platters, but what can you do? Some of the other teams have enormous budgets — it’s essentially their job to prep for these competitions ­— so we’re pretty proud to bring home the bronze.”

It’s nice to win, but Hoag says he has other reasons for competing internationally.

“I look at it as an opportunity for me to learn and see the top of the top,” he says. “Looking at leadership angles and how they react in different situations and how they treat people. It keeps my drive going – I’m in chefs’ federations, I’m a level-B judge worldwide. My philosophy is to keep your hand going and never stop learning. It’s the mindset of always being an apprentice. For me, it’s the people you come across, relationships that you’ve built, the skills that you’ve learned. It’s about the journey, not about the medals.”

Hoag has built an esteemed career from the ground up, starting with George Brown culinary school, working as an apprentice at the Royal York Hotel, and then in more senior roles at other high-end Toronto establishments such as Canoe, Liberty Grand and Trump Hotel.

At each competition he attends, Hoag wears his McMaster uniform, representing not only Ontario or Canada, but the university.

“It’s about getting Mac’s name out wherever I can,” he says. “I want to try and push us as a team here. We are not just another university – we are always striving to improve.”

Hoag and the Canadian team are now training for the IKA Culinary Olympics, to be held in Germany in early 2020.

Team Ontario at the Culinary World Cup Expogast in Luxembourg


(This article was first published on Daily News. Read the original article by JOANNA ZUK - February 26, 2019)

Soupfest 2019 Highlight

Winning Most Creative Soup and placing third overall at Soupfest 2019. We would like to thank Andy Leung for taking the lead on this, great job Andy! There were a lot of hands helping supporting Andy throughout the whole process.

Soupfest 2019
Soupfest 2019

Soupfest 2019

February 5, 2019

Never get hangry again: Delicious dining options on campus

Hospitality Services

We’ve all been there – a morning so rushed you’ve forgotten your lunch, or a panic when there’s no leftovers after dinner to eat the next day. Buying lunch on campus can be a good thing – especially when you have as many options as we do at McMaster.

Hospitality Services operates more than 20 food service locations across campus – and is proud of the wide variety and diverse options they offer.

Some of the most recent additions include:


A food station on campus where all menu items are prepared without many of Canada’s top 10 allergens.

This new station within Centro is accessible to everyone, not just students with allergies. It’s a great new option for clean, healthy eating that will always have a vegetarian option available.

All staff at this station receive special training to minimize cross contamination of ingredients during preparation.



A station dedicated to plant-forward vegan and vegetarian dishes in Centro.

Plantry, McMaster Hospitality Services  

Gluten Free

Gluten free options are available at 11 on-campus locations, including an all Gluten Free station, Zen Den in La Piazza.

Zen Den, McMaster Hospitality Services  


Halal beef and chicken options are available in most dining establishments on a regular basis and are posted on the menu boards where available.

Check out the all-halal location of Paramount Fine Foods in Centro dining hall if you’re craving a shawarma wrap, falafel or many other middle eastern specialities.

Paramount, McMaster Hospitality Services  


Prepackaged Kosher sandwiches, pastries and entrees are available in La Piazza.

Vegan and Vegetarian

Bridges Vegetarian Cafe has won awards for its creative menu and is the only all - vegetarian restaurant on a University campus in Canada. It’s located in the Refectory Building.

Bridges, McMaster Hospitality Services  

For a detailed list of all food service locations and menus across campus, visit the Hospitality Services page. Warning: Do not visit this site on an empty stomach.

Have an idea, feedback or food-related suggestion? Send your comments and cravings to Hospitality Services team by emailing hospitality@mcmaster.ca


(This article was first published on Daily News. Read the original article by Katrina Spotts - September 5, 2018)

Hospitality Services chefs are putting more plants on the plate

Hands-on training this week for Hospitality Services chefs was provided by Chef Amy Zarichnak from Forward Food, a non-profit organization with the goal to ‘get more plants on the plate.’

Photo credit: Sarah Janes

This week, chefs from McMaster’s Hospitality Services participated in Forward Food training, focussed on creating delicious, cost-effective and plant-based dishes. The hands-on training session, that took place on campus in the Centro kitchen, was provided by Chef Amy Zarichnak from Forward Food, a non-profit organization with the goal to ‘get more plants on the plate.’

Providing vegetarian alternatives for faculty, staff and students isn’t entirely new at McMaster. This year marks the 14th anniversary of Bridges, an award-winning restaurant for vegan and vegetarian dining.

Plant-based eating is gaining momentum across the country, as more and more Canadians aim to reduce their meat consumption in favour of vegetarian and vegan diets. Consumers are increasingly concerned with the impact of their food, the environmental footprint of their meals, and the positive health benefits of consuming more plant proteins daily. The Canada Food Guide is currently under revision and is expected to reflect the growing body of evidence that supports plant-based eating, by recommending the increased consumption of plant-based foods in general and plant proteins.

In time for the next academic year, Hospitality Services is planning to offer more plant-based meal options to students and open The Plantry, a plant-based station in the largest cafeteria on campus, CENTRO@Commons.

Some of the signature dishes the team perfected in training were – Mushroom street tacos with cilantro sauce, cauliflower and lentil curry, and crabless crab cakes.

Photo credit: CHat Photography

Photo credit: CHat Photography

Photo credit: CHat Photography

“This is a huge win for McMaster students, and a great learning opportunity for Hospitality Services. We’re taking another step to ensure students have ample choices for a balanced, healthy diet when eating on campus,” says Liana Bontempo, Registered Dietician and Wellness Manager with Hospitality Services. “We’re excited about applying the training to new menu items and using what we’ve learned to tweak to some of our existing dishes.”

For a full listing of hospitality service food locations and hours of operation, click here.

(This article was first published on Daily News. Read the original article - May 4, 2018)

McMaster Chefs Sizzle at Soupfest

McMaster Hospitality Services at SoupFest 2018

At the 16th annual Soupfest event in Hamilton, McMaster Hospitality was among the 25 organizations who donated their time and soup to raise funds for Hamilton’s Living Rock Ministries.

Last week, a group of chefs from McMasters Hospitality Services team participated in the 16th annual Soupfest at Hamilton Convention Centre by Carmens. At this year’s event, 25 organizations donated their time and soup to raise funds for Hamilton’s Living Rock Ministries.

In addition to serving up delicious soup to more than 4500 people, our very own Hospitality Services team won Best Presentation and Most Creative runner-up honours for their Steak Ramen Soup, a regular feature on the East Meets West Bistro here on campus.

Proudly representing McMaster were Chefs Andy Leung, Nathan Alston, Lincoln Crowe, Ana Carballo, Paul Hoag, John Barreda and Front of the house staff Dixon Midigo, Melanie Cottrell, Kirsten Mak, and Scott Dejong.

This is the first year the McMaster Hospitality Services team has participated in the event. Not only were they the participants from a University campus, they were one of only five to come back with some hardware. 

Looking to try the soup for yourself?

Visit East Meets West Bistro, located in the Mary Keyes Residence Building. This location features multicultural cuisine and rotating seasonal menus with Halal, Vegetarian and Vegan options always in season.

(This article was first published on Daily News. Read the original article - February 28, 2018)

Taking Accessibility to the Next Level

For many members of the McMaster community, grabbing a sandwich or slice of pizza in La Piazza, or selecting a soft drink from a display case are straight-forward parts of any regular day.

But these routine actions are anything but straight-forward for some.

“Reaching for a drink, placing an order at a service counter or grabbing a coffee can be challenging for McMaster community members with varying physical abilities,” says Chris Roberts, Director of Hospitality Services.

Last spring, Hospitality Services brought Sterling Frazer Associates in to audit the physical accessibility of the 18 food service locations within McMaster Hospitality Services so that the University could understand any service gaps and in preparation for compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

For Roberts and his team, some of the results were surprising. Most food service counters were too high, debit machine cords not long enough, and some shelves, display racks and self-serve stations could not be accessed by all customers. And this was only scratching the surface.

After the audit, Roberts developed 93 actions to make hospitality Services more accessible. The list was long but was divided into what required immediate action and those items that required longer term planning.

The hospitality team took these results seriously and have already completed most of the items that required immediate attention. There has been new accessibility training for Hospitality Services, and for its major suppliers.

One of the most important outcomes though, was a change to how the hospitality team thinks about customer service.

“All students, staff and faculty should feel comfortable dining on campus. This audit helped identify what we can do to be more inclusive to our customers. Personally, it’s changed the way I see things and make decisions. I’m paying attention to different details now, from colour contrast on menus to how and where we place our displays,” Roberts says.

While the Summary and Action Plan developed from the audit was specific to Hospitality Services, the experiences and lessons learned may be applied to different areas across campus. The Hospitality Services team is hoping to share the audit and summary with other departments that are looking to make accessibility improvements.

“This is a great step for the McMaster community,” says Tim Nolan, Director, Student Accessibility Services. “McMaster is a home and workplace for thousands with varying physical abilities. Taking actions like this are important not only for complying with AODA but for improving the daily experiences of everyone who visits, lives or works on the McMaster campus.”

For additional information on the Accessibility Review, contact Chris Roberts at roberch@mcmaster.ca.

(This article was first published on Daily News. Read the original article - February 8, 2018)

Call It Cauliflower Power

Paul Hoag in Germany 2016

McMaster Hospitality Services executive chef Paul Hoag’s artistically arranged, creatively plated presentation of cauliflower prepared six ways - yes, that is half a dozen - landed him eighth place in the coveted top 10 in the World Gourmet Society’s “Best Plate” video competition.

Six kinds of cauliflower cuisine, you ask? Yes, and the fully vegan plate contained not one shred of cheese to prop it up, though it did have pickled grapes, almonds, a potato spiral and date puree.

Hoag’s three-minute video was Canada’s lone contender against fancy dishes from around the world, including Italian chef Gabrielle Vannucci’s slick, artfully lit panna cotta black forest gateau. Vannucci’s blockbuster video — featuring dry ice, a blowtorch and a whimsical piano score — took home the top prize last week at the Chefs World Summit in Monaco.

Hoag’s video focused on a lot more than just his prowess with produce. His entry is only part plating — the first half of it is a fond tribute to McMaster and to Canada. Only after his voiceover asks, “So what is Canadian food?” does he cut to the actual plating.

And that’s all for the best: Besides creativity, artistry and sheer cooking skill, “the culinary heritage of the chef's country of origin, the team in the kitchen, their techniques, the kitchen, and ingredients are all excellent inclusions for the short story as they create their most representative and distinctive plate,” the organizer’s website says.

Hoag also placed third in Canada in qualifiers for the World Chef Challenge.

(This article was first published on Daily News. Read the original article - December 11, 2017)

Chef Paul Hoag

McMaster Chef Places Third in World Chef Challenge Qualifier

McMaster Hospitality Services Executive Chef Paul Hoag recently represented McMaster University in the World Association Chefs Society (WACS), World Chef Challenge qualifier. The competition was held to select a chef to represent Canada at the World Challenge next year.

Of the 1,500 competitors from across Canada, Chef Hoag placed 3rd overall in the national competition. This is the first year Chef Hoag has participated in the World Chef Challenge.

Earlier this year Chef Hoag and Chef Manager John Barreda attained their Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC) designation. The designation is the second highest professional culinary recognition and accreditation in the world.

In 2016 a team of McMaster Chefs consisting of Paul Hoag, Lincoln Crowe, John Barreda and manager Catherine Young won the Grand Prize and Gold Medal and a Gold medal for Best Dessert at the Canadian College and University Food Service Association (CCUFSA) Culinary Competition in Toronto.

McMaster is proud to have these skilled and award-winning Chefs on campus.

(http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca - November 21, 2017

Director of Hospitality Services elected as President of CCUFSA

At the recent annual conference of the Canadian College and University Food Service Association (CCUFSA) Chris Roberts, director of Hospitality Services, was elected by his peers as a President Elect of the Association.

CCUFSA, formed in 1978, is a national group comprised of Food Service Directors and Managers from self-operated and contracted schools, as well as Senior Administrators that oversee Food Services as part of their portfolio. The Association works to enhance the quality of campus life through the growth and development of food service operations in Colleges and Universities.

Roberts's election by his peers is a recognition of the contribution he makes to the industry and of the esteem with which they hold him as a leader and key contributor to the Association and the higher education food service sector.

Roberts has a wealth of experience in both the self-operated and contract-managed higher education marketplace and his insight and guidance will be invaluable to the members. It is anticipated that he will serve as President (2018 – 2019) and then Past President (2019 – 2020).

This is the first time McMaster has had someone elected President in the 25-year history of CCUFSA.

"I am very proud of the direction Chris has taken our Hospitality Department," said Cathie Tatsis, McMaster Senior Manager of Operations (Retail and Residence Dining). "He is a true leader and mentor. He inspires, motivates, empowers and is always asking us for our feedback. It’s amazing how much we have accomplished in a couple of years with him leading us."

(http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca - July 31, 2017)

Culinary Heights

Two McMaster Chefs have achieved lofty status in the culinary world. Hospitality Services Executive Chef Paul Hoag and Chef John Barreda have attained their Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC) Designation. The CCC designation is the second highest professional culinary recognition and accreditation in the world. It represents the culmination of the highest standards of managerial and administrative responsibilities, culinary skills and dedication to the cooking profession.

To qualify for the program chefs must have an extensive resume and be a member of the Certified Chefs Federation. Once accepted into the program only 20% of applicants are successful in attaining the CCC designation.

The CCC designation program is 5-months long and consists of in-class courses, theory testing, an 8-hour final written exam and a 7-hour cooking exam consisting of six 6 courses.

McMaster is proud to have not one, but two CCC designated chefs!

July 5, 2017

John Barreda and Paul Hoag

Commemorative Tree Planting at McMaster Inovation Park - June 1, 2017

A tree planting ceremony to celebrate McMaster Hospitality Services first off-campus location with The Atrium Cafe at McMaster Innovation Park.

Chris Roberts and Paramount Foods CEO

Meeting with Paramount Foods

Hospitality Services Director Chris Roberts met with Paramount Foods CEO and President Mohamad Fakih to discuss a partnership that would see the Middle Eastern Cuisine concept open on the McMaster Campus this summer. Paramount was recently named the Top Halal restaurant in Canada and is also the fastest growing Middle Eastern Food chain in Canada. Centro in the Commons Building will be the home for the concept which features Healthy, Vegetarian and Halal cuisine. “The Paramount Foods partnership fully aligns with our objectives of increasing both our diversity and our healthier options within food service on campus” stated Roberts.

February 10, 2017

IKA World Culinary Olympics - October 2016

McMaster University was proudly represented at the IKA World Culinary Olympics which took place in Erfurt, Germany in late October. More than 2,000 chefs from over 50 countries prepared 7,000 menus. The World Culinary Olympics is the true Mecca for gourmets, gastronomes and chefs.

McMaster Hospitality Services Executive Chef Paul Hoag was a competitive member of both Team Golden Horseshoe and Team Ontario. The teams came home with 11 medals from this world class event.

Paul Hoag in Germany 2016


A team of McMaster Chefs consisting of Paul Hoag, Lincoln Crowe, John Barreda and Manager Catherine Young won the Grand Prize Gold Medal and a Gold medal for Best Dessert at the Canadian College and University Food Service Association (CCUFSA) Culinary Competition in Toronto.

The theme of the competition was connecting culture with flavour using ingredients found within a 100-mile radius of Toronto for the purpose of reflecting the cultural diversity of Toronto.

Each team was asked to design and prepare a three-course meal using certain designated products. After the judging takes place the dinner is then served to 200 conference attendees.


ACF Competition

McMaster Hospitality Services Chefs David Fisher, Leigh Laidlaw and Demian Melnyk received silver medals at the American Culinary Federation. The multi-day competition is a highly regarded skill-based event represented by some of the top level University culinary teams from across North America.

(http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca - July 2016)

ACF Silver Medal
Centro Top 10 on HuffPost

McMaster University - Centro at Commons Ranked Number 4 among 10 Canadian Universities With the Best Food

Centro at Commons, located in the heart of the North Quad, is a diverse marketplace that satisfies just about everyone through its healthy food, themed dinners, international cuisine, great campus view and special events (Hello, Super Bowl!). CENTRO also has a relaxing dining atmostphere which includes big screen TVs, areas for socialization and spectacular views.

HuffPost Living - October 21, 2015

CCUFSA - Uncorking Creativity Award

McMaster won gold out of three categories at the Canadian College and University Food Services Association's "UNCORKING CREATIVITY" competion in Niagara Falls: "Judge's Choice" for the Technical Composition and Presentation of the Menu as well as "Best Dessert".

McMaster Chefs and their team spent about two months on food preparation and presentation. Beside the pefect menu using local ingredients, the team also used live actors dressed in British mililary uniforms and other props to make their display unique.


CCUFSA 2 Medals
Most Vegan 2010 Award

Peta2 - Most Vegetarian-Friendly University in Canada

For the second year in a row, McMaster has made the peta2 list, boasting wonderfully creative vegetarian and vegan options. More than 10,000 people voted in peta2's online contest to name the Mcmaster the Most Vegetarian-Friendly University in Canada. After placing first among vegetarian-friendly Canadian universities last year, McMaster came back this year thanks to the amazing menu at Bridges Café.