The MOA cafe brings cultural diversity to campus

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With dining options ranging from Taco Bell to Subway, campus cuisine can be predictable. However, the Museum of Art Cafe offers a glimmer of variety and ethnicity: a Middle Eastern-inspired menu in collaboration with the Islamic art exhibit.

The new art exhibit, “Beauty and Belief: Crossing Bridges with the Arts of Islamic Culture,” came to BYU to build bridges and unite different cultures. In correlation with this cause, the MOA Cafe and the BYU culinary arts team created an authentic and original Middle Eastern menu.

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the Museum of Art Cafe offers a glimmer of variety and ethnicity: a Middle Eastern-inspired menu in collaboration with the Islamic art exhibit.
Joe Tiapson, manager of retail dining, commented on the diversity “Beauty and Belief” hopes to bring to campus.

[pullquote]”We’ve done a lot of research with the flavors and what would fit in with the MOA’s environment. It’s a very nice product.”[/pullquote]

“This exhibit is very unique — it’s something that the MOA has been working on quite a bit,” he said. “We’re aiming to help bring a full package deal to the BYU community. When people come, they can have the opportunity to taste the unique foods from the area as well.”

The MOA Cafe typically includes international types of food, but this is the first time lead chef John McDonald and team have created something special to run with the art exhibit.

After doing extensive research on Middle Eastern flavors, McDonald visited Palestinian and Iranian restaurants to come up with the new menu.

“We’ve done a lot of research with the flavors and what would fit in with the MOA’s environment,” McDonald said. “It’s a very nice product.”

With house-made bread and sauces made from scratch, the menu includes sandwiches, salads, entree plates and desserts.  Diverse dishes like Turkish salad with chicken, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, basmati rice and of course pita bread, bring fresh and vibrant flavors to campus.

McDonald said the menu includes an array of desserts as well: baklava, semolina cake and jasmine rice pudding.

This exhibit, “Beauty and Belief,” can not only help students become more culturally diverse, it can help them adopt a new perspective.

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Monica Moralez, a recreational management major from Mexico, works in the MOA. From her experience with the different exhibits and different cultures, she has learned that simple things unite people.

“We can learn from their customs,” she said. “Something that simple can help people to see and give meaning in life. Sometimes we get caught in making money and trivial things and we forget that it’s not that important. The most important thing in life is becoming close with other people and enjoying life.”

Moralez then spoke about returned missionary students at BYU, and how many of them have served in different cultures.

“They have seen that people are happy with whatever they have,” she said. “They see that people are happy without the fancy things. Trying the food is a different way to see that — that different things help people see the big picture.”

“Beauty and Belief” is open now and ends Sept. 29. The exhibit includes more than 250 works of art from more than 40 lenders in 10 countries and will be displayed in the galleries on the main level of the MOA. For more information about the exhibit visit  beauty-and-belief.byu.edu.