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Dining in the College

Introduction

The heart of St Margaret’s College is the Norris Dining Hall. In 2013, the Dining Hall was named after the previous Master of the College, Dr Peter Norris, in honour of his 25 years of service.

Dining at the College is so much more than just eating. The Dining Hall provides a wonderful opportunity for Members to chat, socialise, get to know each other, make friends, meet College guests and of course enjoy good food.

The College is served by a professionally equipped kitchen, which is staffed with trained chefs who mastermind the delivery of three meals a day.

The dining system underpins our approach to catering as a whole. As we are providing meals in what is very much an extended family environment, our goal is to provide menus that are nutritious, varied and enjoyable, using locally and ethically produced food mindful of the feedback we get from you.

At a residential college catering for three meals a day, seven days a week, it is easy for meals to become repetitive, however we ensure that residents are offered the opportunity to try something new on a regular basis. Each week a new dish is tried and tested, with inspiration and recipes being obtained from many sources.

We listen carefully to the feedback we get from the Food Committee. If a meal is not well received it will not be repeated. Feedback is essential in planning menus, and all the chefs take pride in the meals they produce. Meal suggestions from Members often make their way on to the menu.

The College is conscious about where food comes from in terms of supporting local suppliers and attempting to reduce the College’s overall carbon footprint. For these reasons, the College is committed to purchasing its food from New Zealand producers wherever possible. All tea and coffee is Fair Trade.

Standards

The College is committed to providing the best possible meals for its Members. The College employs qualified chefs and has its menus and operating procedures regularly reviewed by nutritionists and Members. We hope that the variety of our menus will enable all Members of College to be happy and well fed.

All Food Services Staff have the appropriate Food Handling and Hygiene Certificates. The College is an “A” rated kitchen and is HACCP accredited.

Cooking

The kitchen has three combi-ovens that can cook by convection heat, steam or by a combination of both. Cooking by steam is our preference and where this is not possible, polyunsaturated oil is used in preference to fat or dripping. Because food can be cooked quickly in the different ovens, most food is served within ten minutes of cooking.

Food Committee

This Committee comprises the Food Rep on the Student Executive and a number of Members selected to ensure that different food preferences are represented. Members are encouraged to post constructive feedback in the suggestion box that can be found on the main notice board for the Committee to discuss at its regular meetings (four times per year). The Committee provides feedback from its meetings to the Dean of Students who in turn raises matters with the Head Chef for further consideration.

The Meals

Listed below is an outline of what normally happens at meals. We may have to change this based on the time of year, the number of Members in the College, and the availability of goods.

Breakfast

This consists of a variety of cereals (usually around 10) and at least four different types of bread that Members can toast. There is normally yoghurt and preserved fruit. Each day there is a selection of hot items that may include: sausages, bacon, spaghetti, baked beans, eggs, hash browns, mushrooms, pancakes or croissants. There is porridge in winter.

Lunch

There is normally a choice of hot food items at lunch, plus home-baked muffins, scones or cookies, and an impressive salad bar. Soup is often served through the colder months of winter. A variety of breads, spreads, and fillings are available for toasting and for making toasted sandwiches.

Cut Lunch

Members unable to attend lunch on weekdays are able to make their own lunch while the Norris Dining Hall is open for breakfast. fillings, juice, yoghurt, baking and fruit are usually provided. Members who take a cut lunch are asked not to come to lunch at the College that day. The only exception is when a cut lunch is taken to substitute for a late dinner meal. If people request cut lunches on weekends the kitchen staff are normally able to oblige.

Dinner

This is a cooked meal with two main meat options (one of which is low fat), at least three vegetables, and dessert. Sometimes there is also a salad bar at dinner. While the Head Chef tries to estimate demand there is no guarantee that both meat options will be available for the whole meal service. There is also a vegetarian option for those who have signed up as vegetarian.

All Meals

The College provides a fruit basket, coffee machine (cappuccino, latte, hot chocolate, etc.), fruit juice, fruit drink, chilled filtered water, and a variety of teas.

Members may take one piece of fruit from the Norris Dining Hall each meal. No other food should be taken out of the Norris Dining Hall or Atrium without permission.

There are vending machines in the courtyard for all-round use and the Student Exec operates a canteen in the Valentine Common Room at suppertime.

Late Meals for Dinners

On an exceptional basis, the College provides late dinner meals Monday to Friday for Members with genuine commitments over the normal dinner time, for example a late lecture or lab, or a formal sporting or cultural commitment. If in doubt, please ask.

To request a late meal, please email the Conference Manager at conference@stmargarets.college and provide the date for the late meal and the reason. Late meal emails must be received by no later than 4 pm on the day the late meal is required.

There is no provision for late dinner meals on Saturday and Sunday, but Members with sporting or cultural commitments on these two days may use cut lunches for their dinner meals.

Meal Times

Meal times will vary during holidays and for special occasions but unless a change is posted on the notice board, the following times are the official meal times.

Day Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Monday - Friday 7:00 am - 9:00 am 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm 5:15 pm - 6:15 pm
Saturday 8:00 am - 10:00 am 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm 5:15 pm - 6:15 pm
Sunday 8:00 am - noon noon - 1:00 pm 5:30 pm - 6:15 pm

Special Options

Vegetarian

At the beginning of the year, Members should notify the Business & IT Manager if they require a vegetarian meal in the evening or have philosophical or religious reasons for not eating particular meats. Members choosing a vegetarian option must keep that option for the semester. The vegetarian option is not available for those who have not notified the College. Apart from salads, we do not guarantee a cooked vegetarian option at lunch.

Dietary Restrictions

Anyone with allergies to specific food or other dietary requirements should have indicated this with their application before coming to the College. Should dietary requirements change while at the College, Members are asked to mention this to the Business & IT Manager, who will update the College’s records and inform the Food Service staff.

While some other Colleges are equipped to admit Members with special diets, St Margaret’s is not and so normally does not admit Members who require special diets. If an exception is made, it is the responsibility of the Member concerned to get a cut lunch if the food posted on the menu is not suitable. These Members are to prepare their own lunches from the selection available at breakfast time. If circumstances change during the course of the year and a special diet is required, Members will be asked to obtain a medical certificate to that effect but it may be left to the Member to work within the limits the menu imposes. Please note that the College is unable to cater for vegan or Kosher diets. All meat has Halal certification.

Dress in the Norris Dining Hall

Daily Meals

At breakfast or Sunday brunch, dress can be informal (a dressing gown over sleeping attire is acceptable). At all other meals, a good standard of dress is expected. Shoes must always be worn in the Dining Hall. Hats or beanies are not permitted in the Dining Hall unless there is a medical, cultural or religious reason (please discuss this with the Master at the beginning of the year). Similarly, hoods should not be worn up.

Sunday Formal Dinner

Sunday Formal Dinners are regular occurrences at the College and special guests often attend. Members are expected to dress well. The Food Service Staff put a lot of effort into the preparation of the meal and we ask that you match this effort with your own presentation. Overall appearance is important, and the following are minimum guidelines:

Women

Skirt, suit or acceptable dress trousers and formal top (no t-shirts). Acceptable dress trousers do not include jeans-style trousers. No sweatshirts or jerseys. No denim. Shoes must be worn, but not sneakers, tennis shoes or the like. Formal ethnic dress may be worn.

Men

Either suit or dress trousers, a tie and a buttoned-up shirt. No sweatshirts, polo shirts, jerseys, or jeans. Shoes must be worn, but not sneakers, tennis shoes or the like. Formal ethnic dress may be worn.

College Leaders will also provide Members with guidance regarding appropriate attire for Formal Dinners. Please do not be offended if you are asked to change.

Special Meals

Sunday Formal Dinner

Dress is formal. Tables in the Dining Hall are laid with table clothes, cutlery and crockery, and decorated with floors. The Food Service Staff provide a wonderful two course meal, plus a full cheeseboard and fruit basket after grace. The Arts Rep on the Exec arranges for some Members to share their musical talents during the dinner.

The Master also invites special guests from the University and the community to attend formal dinner. At a special pre-dinner gathering, College Leaders and some Members from each floor are invited to meet the guests in the Atrium. This provides Members with an opportunity to develop their interpersonal, social and networking skills.

After dinner, all Members are welcome to join the Master, Dean of Students and guests in the Valentine Common Room for the post-dinner gathering. During this time, guests are invited to talk briefly about their particular jobs and the career pathways they have followed. They also share reflections and wisdom with Members. A question and answer session then follows.

Please note that guests of Members are not to attend the pre- or post-dinner gatherings without the permission of the Master.

Special Theme Dinners

The College co-operates with the Student Exec in providing a special dinner for the College theme dinner evenings, for example Nostalgia Dinner, Awkward Dinner and Mid-winter Christmas Dinner.

Expert Breakfasts

On Wednesdays during semester time (excluding exam time), the College invites experts in various fields to attend an Expert Breakfast in the Atrium. These Breakfasts provide Members with opportunities to expand their knowledge in areas outside their particular field of study. The Expert Breakfast Co-ordinator (a College Leader) places a sign-up sheet on the notice board each week for those Members wishing to attend an Expert Breakfast on a particular Wednesday.

Valedictory Dinner

Towards the end of each year the College provides a very special à la carte dinner for Members of the College. At this dinner, the College hosts Members of the College Council. Prizes and trophies are presented to Members.

Customs in the Norris Dining Hall

Guests at Meals

Members may bring a guest to a meal if they complete a guest meal voucher beforehand. These vouchers are available on a window sill near the servery. Completed vouchers (one voucher for each guest) must be handed to a member of the kitchen staff before a meal is taken.

The College invoices Members for these guests periodically during the year. Prompt payment is required, and any overdue invoices may attract a late payment fee. As a matter of courtesy, please introduce your guests to the Master, Dean of Students, or College Leader on duty. Members may not bring in guests during orientation, the nights of the College Theme Dinners and Valedictory Dinner. They should also check with College Leaders before inviting guests to a Sunday Formal Dinner.

Absences from Meals

Please inform the Conference Co-ordinator as soon as possible if large numbers are going to be absent from meals. This prevents the wasting of food. Please note that no refunds are provided when Members are absent from meals.

Etiquette

Members are asked to leave their bags outside the Norris Dining Hall. Do not sit on tables in the Norris Dining Hall and do not place clothing or hats on these tables. Please use the tongs or servers supplied to serve your food. Please restrict the use of mobile phones during meal times and be considerate of others.

Crockery and Cutlery

The crockery is costly to replace because it has the St Margaret’s crest printed on it. Apart from the meal for the duty College Leader, the crockery and cutlery must not be removed from the Norris Dining Hall or the Atrium. Members of College may not bring their own crockery or cutlery.

Announcements and Grace

During the evening meal, at 5.40 pm, the Master, Dean of Students or College Leader calls for any announcements following which a thanksgiving grace is said. All Members, whatever their religious affiliation or absence thereof, should stand quietly during grace. Unless it is with the Master's permission, no one may leave the Norris Dining Hall until after announcements and grace. Announcements should be brief, in good taste, and solely about College events.

Seconds

Second servings are available after all have had a first serving and the Food Services Staff place the “Seconds” sign on the window ledge near the Master’s table. This is normally at 1.10 pm for lunch (except on Sunday lunch when seconds are available at any stage) and 6.10 pm for dinner except for Sunday Formal Dinner, when seconds are available after grace. Members should make it easier for Food Services Staff to do their job and should not ask Food Services Staff to break guidelines by giving extra food before seconds are available. Please do not queue for seconds – wait for the sign as Staff are not allowed to put the sign up if there is a queue.

Clean-up

Please take your used crockery to the clean-up area after your meal. Ensure that all utensils, scraps and crockery are placed in the correct receptacles. Do not take your dishes to the clean-up area until after grace as this puts extra pressure on the Food Services Staff who are trying to serve the meal.

Master's Table

Members are encouraged to sit at the Master's Table at meal times and to greet guests. Sometimes a reserved sign will be placed on seats other than the Master's to reserve them for guests. Members are asked to respect this. If the Master is not present for a meal, any Member may sit on their seat.