New executive chef Solon Pietila brings almost 10 years of culinary experience and the desire to increase fresh and local produce options to UALR Dining Services.
Before coming to UALR, Pietila was executive chef at Texas A&M University – Commerce, just outside of Dallas. He was trained at Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Ore.
Born and raised in the state of Washington, Pietila is not new to Sodexo, UALR’s dining provider, or to Arkansas.
He has been with the company for almost nine years, and previously lived in Arkadelphia for two and a half years while working at Ouachita Baptist University. While there, he acquired a new-found appreciation for a local favorite.
“My favorite dish to prepare for others is easily smoked St. Louis ribs and Southwest macaroni and cheese with homemade barbecue sauce. Barbecue was new to me when moving to Arkansas the first time and is an obsession for me these days,” he said.
Pietila aims to provide a wider variety of healthy options for customers, including making some of the salad dressings from scratch.
“My focus for adding health-conscious options to the Diamond Café will be to adjust our salad bar further towards fresh and local produce,” said Pietila. “We have already begun to process our own produce from whole form to give a fresher look and taste to the ingredients offered.”
Pietila said he is looking forward to interacting with students and faculty and urges anyone who has special diet needs to contact him directly at Solon.Pietila@sodexo.com.
Pictured: Executive Chef Solon Pietila
Pictured: Seafood Cobb Salad prepared by Solon Pietila