Campus Closeup: Terry Jennings
There are more dining options than ever on Northern's campus. Terry Jennings (Dining Services) and the rest of the culinary staff at the Marketplace are playing a big role in expanding choices and catering to diverse tastes.
“We are finding that, each year, more and more students have food allergies or are on vegetarian or vegan diets, so we are trying to respond to that,” said Jennings. “Vegans are vocal and very conscious of what they put in their bodies. They view their bodies as a temple and just listening to them talk about what they eat and how important it is to them is amazing. A lot of what we make is from recipes and ideas that they have given to us. That input really helps us to figure out what they are looking for. We are basically asking them, ‘What can we do to make it easier to eat vegan at NMU?’”
Jennings added that the new options also appeal to what he calls “alternavores,” people who eat meat but also like to sample vegetarian fare. “For example, I’m definitely a meat eater myself, but I do not mind having one or two vegetarian meals a week.”
Other recent additions include an omelet bar, an action pancake bar with many different toppings, breakfast burritos, a fajita and quesadilla bar and a Euro sandwich bar.
“In general, students have evolved and are more educated in terms of what they are eating,” he said. “This generation uses a lot more spice than in the past. They know what they like and we are not regressing. We are moving forward with the evolution of the way we cook our food.”
Jennings said his childhood played a big role in his love of cooking. He grew up in the area and attended high school in Marquette. His father was in the Air Force and, as the oldest of 11 children, Jennings would often cook for the rest of his brothers and sisters. His love for culinary arts grew from there. Jennings earned his associate degree from NMU and cooked in the University Center a decade before transferring to the Marketplace after its remodeling.
Jennings and his wife of 35 years, Debra, have three children—all NMU alumni. When he isn’t in the kitchen at work or at home, he enjoys hunting, fishing, canoeing and biking. His son Ethan is temporarily cooking at the Marketplace.
“I started teaching him to cook when he was five years old,” Jennings aid. “I believe that cooking is an art form and baking is more of a science That is why I like to cook. You just build as you go and you are able to improvise. There is no wrong way to do things … for the most part.”