Sustainability Superstar: Matthew Hughes

Harvest Table Senior Chef de Cuisine Matt Hughes brings his passion for sourcing local, ethical products to the University’s Dining Services every day. In his three years on campus, he has worked closely with the chef brigade and Senior Executive Chef Tony Pignagrande to grow our program with local partner Headwater Food Hub. An impressive 75% of the food served at UR’s residential dining centers is now purchased from local producers!

Chef Matt spent his summer visiting New York State farms, fisheries, and processing centers with other members of the Harvest Table team not only to ensure the quality of all products Dining Services brings into the dining locations, but also to learn more about how the quality of the food UR sources from local producers is tied to the standards of sustainability and ethical treatment that Dining Services sets. Chef Matt took a leading role in the introduction of NYS Hudson Valley Fishery to campus dining. On his tour of the fishery, Chef Matt was able to hear more about the advanced Recirculating Aquaculture System Technology that Hudson Valley Fishery uses to raise fish free of pesticides, growth hormones, mercury, parasites, and other harmful factors. Due to their self-contained farm, the fish (and their waste) will also have zero impact on ocean ecosystems. Their proximity to the University of Rochester will cut down on carbon emissions during transport. Chef Matt has championed this vendor on campus, introducing them with a Steelhead Trout Sushi Pop-Up last spring and finding ways to utilize this delicious, sustainable product in recipes across campus dining centers.

Chef Matt has spent his time at the University finding healthy, sustainable, and local vendors for the Dining Services program to promote. He makes it his mission to dig deep into not just the taste of the product, but also the impact it can have on the local and global communities. Keep an eye out in the dining centers for the continued sustainable innovations that he will be bringing to the table!

Know someone who’s made progress with sustainability on campus? Whether their victories are big or small, we’d love to hear about them! Email us today.

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