Confessions of Rafi Taherian

Rafi Taherian wishes he was more athletic and loves ossobuco.
Yale University's Rafi Taherian loves cheese, hates parking tickets and thinks molecular gastronomy is overrated.

Q. What is the best part of your job?

Being able to say I work at Yale.

Q. What is the worst part of your job?

Parking tickets.

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

Empowering our team with transforming us into the greatest dining organization possible.

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

A groom asked that the entrée for his wedding be made from the fish he would be catching. We didn't know if he would catch enough to feed everyone, but he did and it was a great wedding.

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

Urban planning.

Q. Which talent would you most like to have?

Memorizing names of people I've met.

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

Be more athletic.

Q. What is your greatest fear?

Not doing my best.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?

My wife and my son.

Q. What is your favorite meal?

Ossobuco with soft polenta.

Q. What is your "guilty pleasure?"

Bread.

Q. What will people always find in your refrigerator?

Cheese.

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

Low-fat stuff.

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

Baby octopus with all the inners.

Q. What do you consider to be the most overrated foodservice trend?

Molecular gastronomy.

Q. Read the book or see the movie?

See the movie. It's faster.

Q. Are you a morning or evening person?

Very early morning.

Q. What are your words to live by?

Treat people the way you want be treated.

Q. Who is your favorite celebrity chef?

My grandmother. If she lived today, she would certainly be a celebrity.

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

Go back to visit Italy after 25 years.

Q. What is your most treasured possession?

My garden.

Q. What is your dream vacation?

Argentina.

Q. What do you value the most in a friend?

Truth.

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

The National Mall on August 23, 1963.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
sriracha bottles

Generally, I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. They tend to be grandiose and unrealistic—and why not just resolve to start doing/not doing that thing you’re not doing/doing right away instead of going hog wild until Jan. 1? (New Year’s Day also is my birthday, and if you can’t eat at your favorite Thai restaurant and sip bubbly then, well, when can you?)

I do, however, enjoy the raucous singing of “Auld Lang Syne” to ring in the new year, though I’ve never been quite sure whether you’re supposed to be remembering the year fondly or happily putting it out of mind. While I...

Managing Your Business
briggo coffee haus kiosk

Though diners’ appetites for coffee are seemingly bottomless, adding a full-service coffee shop to every corner of a facility probably isn’t in the playbook. Here’s a look at how two operators added coffee service with relatively small footprints—with one decidedly futuristic (robot barista, anyone?), and the other low-tech but nimble.

Specialty coffee vending at Dell

Dell has a full-service Starbucks on its Red Rock, Texas, campus, but the location isn’t always convenient for a quick coffee pickup. “Certain times, you go into the bistro, like 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., there’s quite a long...

Ideas and Innovation
baked bread

Instead of sourcing value-added product to reduce labor, the food and nutrition team at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison outsources its baked goods to a local shop that hires only formerly incarcerated workers. The bakery was able to hire two new former inmates in order to keep up with the volume needs of the hospital. “We want to be really entrenched in the community, not just have a building that sits in the center of Madison,” says Amy Mihm, clinical nutrition specialist for the hospital.

Managing Your Business
food symbols allergens

Bellevue School District in King County, Wash., has reduced the instances of life-threatening allergic reactions by 94% since 2013. Wendy Weyer, business manager for nutrition services, says that success stems from direct communication with the district’s 20,000 students.

Q: What was the first thing you did to start reducing allergic reactions?

A: More than five years ago, we changed our menu signage to provide information to students on what the common allergens were on all the foods that were served at every station. We use symbols such as an egg or a wheat stalk for younger...

FSD Resources