Housemade fire-roasted red pepper hummus, rice-stuffed grape leaves, quinoa tabbouleh, sumac-marinated cabbage, slow-roasted garlic with red peppers and pita bread.
My first visit to the Terrace Café in the Campus Center of Andrews University in Berrien Springs was a divine revelation. It was my privilege to tour the kitchen and cafeteria and meet general manager J. Mark Daniels and executive chef Linda Brinegar, who introduced me to their philosophies and vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free foods.
Tucked in the heart of the university, the Terrace Café serves all-you-care-to-eat breakfast, lunch and dinner to students and staff and is open to the public.
Not only was I struck by the quality and variety of the dishes at lunch in the café, but also by chef Brinegar’s magnetism. More than once as I strolled with her and Daniels, she would step away to hug a diner or old friends. “Everybody loves Chef,” Daniels said. It is easy to see why. Both her smile, which is frequent, and her love for her vocation are genuine. She is passionate about healthy, beautiful food and sustainable sourcing.
Almost everything is made from scratch and sourced locally when possible. Rice and beans are served three times a day. Brinegar proudly sources kidney, white, black, pinto and other beans from Carlson-Arbogast Farm in Howard, MI. Tofu comes from Rosewood Farm in Ann Arbor. Amish cheese is at the sandwich station, along with Breadsmith breads from South Bend. It is no ordinary cafeteria, and not just because there is no meat. There is pride and intention behind everything served.
Brinegar explained that she places the healthiest options where they are easiest to reach. Diners are required to walk to the farthest corner of the cafeteria to get to the pizza, which is made with housemade crust. The first impression is of the fresh, colorful salad bar. There are two soups offered. A stir-fry station offers four housemade sauces and a Mexican station tempts with roasted vegetables and housemade salsa. The choices are as diverse as the student population.
At the Terrace Café, the last are first. Batch cooking, where food is cooked as needed throughout service, ensures that steamed vegetables, for example, retain nutrients and flavor and give the last diner the same experience as the first.
Brinegar believes in offering choices and teaching people to make good ones. As Hippocrates did, she believes food is medicine and can help people heal and sustain good health. She also believes healthy food can be gorgeous.
There were so many tempting and delicious dishes, but Brinegar steered me to the classics station, where I was served sweet potato falafel alongside quinoa and a tabbouleh-inspired salad, boosted with colorful purple cabbage. I also sampled jade stir-fry, with edamame and whole-grain jasmine rice. There were glorious desserts—cookies, pineapple upside-down cake—but I didn’t save room.
After meeting Brinegar and having lunch at the Terrace Café, there is one thing I know for sure—two, actually: I will go back, and I will have dessert.
8525 University Blvd.
Berrien Springs, MI
Hours of operation:
Monday–Friday: Breakfast 7–10am, Lunch 11am–2:30pm, Dinner 5–7pm
Sunday: Brunch 10:30am–2pm. Dinner 5–7pm