Confessions of Becky Ellis

Becky Ellis loves duck confit, hates haggis and believes bacon-flavored items have been done to death.
Becky Ellis, senior director of dining and nutrition services for Carilion Clinic, loves duck confit, hates haggis and believes bacon-flavored items have been done to death.

Q. What is the best part of your job?

The name “Carilion” is derived from the word “carillon”—bells that are played to produce a melody.  That represents the best part of my job—everyone working together to create the best experience for our patients, their families and guests.

Q. What is the worst part of your job?

Anytime I try to go on a diet. I love to taste all of the wonderful food that is being prepared in our department.

Q. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Marrying my husband of 28 years.

Q. What is the most unusual foodservice/catering request you have ever received?

Rattlesnake chili for a Southwestern theme dinner. Roanoke is not the rattlesnake capital of the world, but our chef persevered and made a marvelous chili.

Q. If you weren't in foodservice what would you be doing?

I would love to be a food writer/stylist.

Q. If you had a time machine what historical event or era would you visit?

Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball—to see the ball gowns and masks and enjoy the magical celebration at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Q. Which talent would you most like to have?

Playing the piano to accompany the singing voice I would like to have.

Q. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would love to have a singing voice that sounds good outside of my car or the shower.

Q. What is your greatest fear?

I try to remind myself every day to be thankful for such a blessed life and not to spend valuable time worrying about fears and to always be prepared and grateful.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?

Emergency medical personnel—saving lives every day, 24 hours a day.

Q. What would be your dream vacation?

Cooking school in Tuscany, cooking school at the Greenbrier…cooking school anywhere!

Q. What is your favorite meal?

Duck Confit.

Q. If you could eat dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?

Renè Verdon, chef at the White House during the Kennedy and Johnson Administration—that is when the menus and events at the White House were transformed elegantly.

Q. What is your "guilty pleasure?"

Chocolate—I eat it in some form every day.

Q. What will people always find in your refrigerator?

Wonderful hot sauces that our friends make from habanero and jalapeño peppers out of their garden.  And fabulous French mustards that our friends bring us from their trips to France.

Q. What is your most treasured possession?

My books and my cats—both are very comforting in front of a warm fire.

Q. What food fad do you wish had never started?

Bacon-flavored everything! I love bacon, but when I saw bacon-flavored toothpaste, dental floss, vodka, etc….it was just too much!

Q. What activity is at the top of your bucket list?

Travel to the Champagne region in France.

Q. What is the weirdest food you have ever eaten?

Haggis…there is not enough single-malt scotch in the world to pour over haggis to make it taste good. 

Q. What are your words to live by?

Think positive! These are the words that my mother said and lived by every day.

Q. Who is your favorite celebrity chef?

Paul Bocuse, because of his innovative approach to cuisine and the lasting impression he made in the culinary world.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Ideas and Innovation
pinterest hand phone

We like to offer a constantly changing menu. Last year, I started a Pinterest account—not for marketing, but for my team, so that they can look to the recipes for inspiration and try something new. We tried protein cookies based onto a Pinterest recipe, and our residents loved them.

Ideas and Innovation
coal creek student salad bar

When I was visiting Minneapolis Public Schools, I saw that they have these cool signs on top of their salad bars. As soon as we got back, we re-created them. They are big and branded, and have the portion requirements. They say “Taste something new today” on one side, and we support our local farmers on the other. They help the bars look fresh and delish, and attract students’ eyes.

Menu Development
chicken tetrazzini bowl

The No Whey station in the main dining hall at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., offers students meals that are free of the eight most common allergens. When Brittany Parham, the dietitian who oversees the station, polled food-sensitive students on which favorites they missed most, “comfort foods” was the overwhelming response. Parham, who herself has food allergies, worked with chefs on the 20,000-student campus to focus on allergen-free versions of pasta bakes, biscuits, banana bread and other down-home dishes. Recently, the chefs reworked the school’s traditional chicken...

FSD Resources