Best friends

Broome-Tioga's Mark Bordeau forged a lifelong friendship after his "best" mistake.

By 
Paul King, Editor

Next month’s issue of FoodService Director will feature “The Best,” a reprise of our popular cover story from February 2011. In it we will share readers’ comments on “the best” on a variety of topics.

One of the answers we’ve received came from Mark Bordeau, senior director of foodservice for the Broome-Tioga County BOCES school program in Binghamton, N.Y. I thought I would share it with you to give readers a taste of what’s to come in the issue, but also because it points up the value of networking in the foodservice industry.

Mark shared with us the best “mistake” he’s ever made, which was to attend the annual conference of the New York School Nutrition Association meeting in 1991. He calls it a mistake because that’s what he thought it was at the time.

“Life was just too busy to take two days and go to Syracuse for the conference,” he recalled thinking. Despite his misgiving, however, he did go—and the rest is important history for several school districts in the Southern Tier of New York state.

“At that conference I met my three best friends, Arlin, Betsy and Ray,” he told me. “I lived over two hours away from them, but we stayed connected by phone almost every day. I learned so much from them about school foodservice and life.

“In 1999 I was offered a job in Binghamton. The four of us went from being two hours away to being within 15 minutes of each other. We have undergone a lot of growth together, both professionally and personally. We were so closed we decided to join together and work as one team”

That team eventually became the union of the food program for several adjacent districts and the creation of a brand, called “Rock On Café.”(See "Team Player.")

“The Rock On Café team that we created has made huge strides in improving the wellness of kids in our community,” he shared. “That would not have happened without four people meeting at a conference back in 1991.”

As the upcoming holidays bring us closer to our families, it’s nice to realize that made of our readers have professional “families,” groups that have been formed in fashions similar to Mark’s group, where ideas are shared and concepts conceived that benefit customers in ways that are often hard to imagine when an idea takes shape.

Mark’s tale is also further evidence that networking in this industry does net results, even though what you sow today may not bear from for a decade or more, as has been the case in the Binghamton area. For more stories like this, be sure to read “The Best,” in the January issue of FSD.