2012 Silver Plate—Mary Molt: Operator and Academic

K-State's Mary Molt focuses on quality and scratch cooking.

Mary Molt is a rare individual in the foodservice industry: She is both an operator and an academic. In addition to directing the dining operations at Kansas State, she is an assistant professor of hospitality management and dietetics. She also is responsible for coordinating supervised practice instruction for students in the coordinated undergraduate program in dietetics.

At a Glance: Mary Molt
•Assistant Director, Housing & Dining Services
•Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan.
•Years in foodservice: 38
•Years at Kansas State: 38
•Students on meal plans: 5,200
•Annual Revenue: $9.7 million

Mary Molt’s operational achievements:

•Molt authored the current version of “Food For Fifty,” a book considered by many to be the Bible of non-commercial foodservice. First published in 1937, the book is now in its 13th edition, and Molt has been the chief writer and editor since the seventh edition. Molt’s biggest challenge is reviewing the book periodically and determining how to bring in contemporary recipes and acknowledge changing styles and new cuisines without disturbing the bedrock of the book, which is how to prepare and serve high-quality food in large quantities.

•Molt believes that one of the keys to success in volume foodservice is scratch cooking. She estimates that 80% of the food served at Kansas State is prepared from scratch, which allows the university, in her opinion, to serve more nutritious meals with higher quality ingredients. She also says scratch cooking gives the department more control over fat and sodium contents, as well as the ability to avoid certain food allergens. Because of this philosophy, Kansas State was ranked 15th in the nation in food quality by the Princeton Review in 2011, while also boasting the lowest meal plan price of any school in the Big 12 athletic conference. “I’m really proud of our from-scratch philosophy and I think it gives us a better ability to respond more quickly to changes in student tastes and desires,” she says.

•Molt’s academic skills have been recognized, and tapped, by her peers in NACUFS. For example, Molt helped develop the association’s first Professional Standards Manual, which helps college foodservice departments follow best practices in the areas of menu management, marketing, purchasing, food safety and security, capital improvement and sustainability. She also has served as the chair of the manual’s revision committee. The national association has honored Molt with its highest honor, the Theodore W. Minah Award, and NACUFS’ Midwest Region has named a scholarship in her honor, the Mary Molt Student Excellence Award.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The menu served at Ottawa General Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, is headed for an overhaul after its CEO and management team ate a strict hospital food diet for a week and were unhappy with their options. The foodservice department has been fielding patient complaints for years, but decided to take action after facing the issue head on.

“Getting food managers to eat three meals of hospital food a day for a week brought the point home that much of the food being served was bland, institutional and not what people would normally eat,” Director of Food Services Kevin Peters told Ottawa...

Industry News & Opinion

With overtime pay likely to become a reality for some salaried foodservice employees after Dec. 1, operators are rethinking what they expect managers to do off-site as part of their responsibilities. Answering email or scheduling shifts at home didn’t matter when the employees were exempted from overtime if they earned more than $23,660 per year. But with that threshold more than doubling on Dec. 1 to $47,476, a half hour spent here and there on administrative tasks could push a salaried manager over the 40-hours-per-week threshold and entitle him or her to overtime. And how does the...

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

FSD Resources