Chef Essig's Featured Item of the Week

Halal Choices at Holmes Dining Hall

Dining Services strives to ensure all guests have a variety of menu options and are satisfied with the services they receive. A part of Dining Services' mission statement is to... "promote nutritional awareness and foster culinary diversity." We hope these new offerings will meet the needs of guests who follow a diet that includes Halal foods, as well be an avenue to meet goals set by our mission statement.

If you are not familiar with what Halal is, here are some quick facts taken from the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America's website:

Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. The opposite of halal is haram, which means unlawful or prohibited. Halal and haram are universal terms that apply to all facets of life. However, we will use these terms only in relation to food products, meat products, cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, food ingredients, and food contact materials.

While many things are clearly halal or haram, there are some things which are not clear. Further information is needed to categorize them as halal or haram. Such items are often referred to as mashbooh, which means doubtful or questionable.

All foods are considered halal except the following (which are haram):

  • Swine/Pork and its by-products
  • Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
  • Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
  • Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and certain other animals
  • Foods contaminated with any of the above products

Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, and flavors are questionable (mashbooh) because the origin of these ingredients is not known.

sumacWe are currently offering a variety of Middle Eastern inspired dishes just off the Home Plate area at Holmes Dining Hall. You will find flavorful stews, rice dishes, hot side items, cold salads, hummus, naan bread, and to help flavor your dishes even more, there are shakers of ground sumac and sweet fennel.

This sumac is not the toxic variety that you may think of. The sumac used for culinary purposes is a low growing shrub variety that produces a berry that when dried and ground creates a wonderful spice that has a nutty yet slightly sour flavor that is a wonderful addition to rice dishes and stews. One of my favorite uses for sumac is to heavily season a piece of salmon or trout with the spice and then broil until done... a simple yet complimentary flavor to many dishes.

We hope you stop by Holmes Dining Hall for lunch or dinner and give these new dishes a try. If you would like to learn more about Halal food, you can visit the IFNCA website at


Chef EssigHappy Dining from Executive Chef Essig!

Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA
(Certified Executive Chef, Certified Culinary Administrator)

Hungry and not sure where to eat? We can help you decide... check out the weekly menus often to see what each dining room is serving. You can also call the FoodLine (970.351.FOOD) for daily menus. Students living in the residence halls can access weekly menus on the VOIP phones in their rooms.

Students: add meals and/or Dining Dollars to your UNC Card

Faculty/Staff: sign up for the payroll deduction program

Have questions, comments, or suggestions?? Email us at