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Mar 6, 2007 06:59 AM

Aramark office cafeteria food

I'm sure that hundreds of you must work in an office building where Aramark is the contracted cafeteria company; they run everything, may not actually "cook" anything but rather reheat all sorts of frozen stuff.

Ours (Philadelphia area) is pretty bad, although some food gems pop up once in awhile.

The bad:
* Veal Parmesan. Those dreaded pre-breaded pre-fried "patties" with lots of fat and almost no veal, smothered with tasteless cheese.
* Mac & Cheese. Pseudo-alfredo sauce, no cheese flavor, covered with too many bread crumbs on top
* Panini. The bread is actually some kind of flat round pita, so you get a semi-circular sandwich with random ingredients, sitting in its own grease on a hotplate for an hour.
* Crunchtime Chicken Sandwich. pre-made fried chicken 'patty', slice of cheese, slice of 'ham', globs of sauce. Probably 1000 calories and still has no flavor.
* General Tso Chicken. 90% breading, 10% chicken. Sweet sauce with no flavor.
* pretty much every other hot entree

The good:
* Fried Chicken tenders & curly fries. The tenders are actually large pieces of chicken breast. Tasty.
* Spinach & Cheese Calzone. The filling is 90% spinach and 10% cheese, so I feel like I'm getting lots of vegetables.

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  1. Holy crap! I forgot about the terror of Aramark food.....perhaps it was my brain protecting all future taste receptors!!! When I was in college, they provided the food in the dining halls. Horrible. Absolutely horrible. They would tease us by advertising a steak night and would give you a ticket so that everyone only got one steak and when you would get it, it was not much more than a dry lump of cat food....or at least that is what it looked and smelled like. Anyone who makes scrambled eggs by mixing yellow powder and water obviously doesn't care too much about food quality (really, how hard is it to make real scrambled eggs?). I actually LOST 15 pounds instead of gaining the freshman 15 because there would be weeks at a time where the only thing they served that I could stand eating was a bagel and strawberry cream cheese. Even their milk tasted funny. I don't know if they used powdered milk or what, but it had the strangest taste. How could I have almost forgot the horror of that food? Of course, the year after I moved out of the dorms, they changed food companies and all improved. Grrrr.....

    2 Replies
    1. re: sunshinedrop

      Oh man, I miss the steak and shrimp teaser nights. It may have been bad, but at that point in life it resembled meat more than anything else i was eating.

      1. re: sunshinedrop

        Uggghhh...the college memories! I lived on campus for a few semesters and was forced to purchase a meal ticket for about a thousand dollars. There's still about 977.37 cents left on that meal ticket. The food was that awful!

      2. We have Aramark at the hospital where I work, and the stuff normally isn't that bad- certainly better than regular cafeteria food. Of course when I say it "isn't that bad" it's still much worse than most restaurants. I try to eat pretty healthy, and their salad bar is normally pretty decent, they also do a "smothered" chicken or chopped sirloin that are both good, and they have some good "cajun" items. They make a pretty good taco salad (you can get beef or chicken), and it almost always sells out, as do their chicken wings on wing day. I think that's b/c they let you buy as few or as many as you want (like 3 wings for 1.75 or so); and people actually take them home. Anything with pasta, I try to avoid, it's always a mushy mess. Or anything with meat that has been processed at all, like nuggets or fried shrimp. Always taste weird.

        1. I go to NYU, and Aramark does our cafeterias... the cafeterias are dirty and unhealthy, but worst of all, they will tell you something is "vegetarian" when it isn't. I could go on for pages listing the bad stuff they serve

          1. No excuse for dirty kitchens but contracted foodservice companies are often squeezed so hard by the companies that hire them that the quality suffers. In some cases, a company will pay a subsidy and the result is usually a superior food program. Such a scenario is becoming less common so practices like using low end ingredients, hiring low wage employees, and offering smaller portions becomes the norm. If enough employees complain maybe your company will view the foodservice as more of a means to increase employee morale and take action.

            1. Aramark did our college caf too. The only edible food came from the stir-fry station, where you can decide what goes in.

              1 Reply
              1. re: piccola

                We have that too, but it's a 1-person 'saute' station, takes 2 minutes to serve 1 person. It's a laugh, we've got several thousand employees on our campus and there is always a 20 person line for that station.