Confessions of Rick Hughes

Rick Hughes wants to ski in the Swiss Alps and loves Sam Kass.
Rick Hughes, director of food and nutrition services at Colorado Springs School District 11, loves garlic, admires the White House’s Sam Kass and wishes he could tell a joke.

Q. What is the best part of your job?

I get to serve our community’s children by serving them good food–food that is natural and whole; food that tastes fantastic and is made by caring and compassionate people all over this great city; food that will help them in the classroom; food that will help them in all aspects of life, today and in the future.

Q. What is the worst part of your job?

Being short staffed by about 10% of our team’s positions. It’s challenging to keep moving forward when you’re constantly hiring, retraining and filling positions with subs.

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

Surrounding myself with fantastic people. I am truly blessed with the quality of team members who I work with every day who also have the same vision for good food and serving our community as I do. Last week, the Colorado Public Health Association recognized my team and I for our work in this area with the Florence Sabin Leadership Award. Being recognized by a major public health association for something that you care so much about is very cool.

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

Doing mission work full time for the church.

Q. Which talent would you most like to have?

The ability to tell a joke. Knock knock jokes are about my limit in the comedy arena. Knock knock! Who's there? Dwayne. Dwayne who? Dwayne the bathtub, I'm drowning! See?

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

I am always fine-tuning improvements in all areas to be a better human being. Other than everything… absolutely nothing. Love the skin you’re in!

Q. What is your greatest fear?

As Winston Churchill said, "There is nothing to fear, but fear itself." Absolutely nothing. I know that God is in control and I completely trust in Him and the amazing grace that he provides us for His glory.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?

My son.

Q. What is your favorite meal?

Alaskan copper river salmon topped with a roasted pepper compound butter with roasted new potatoes, summer squash and a glass of Cakebread Chardonnay.

Q. What will people always find in your refrigerator?

Garlic. Love garlic. I even learned to grow garlic in my garden this year. It was so easy and so tasty.

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

Raw chocolate chip cookie dough for secondary school a la carte programs back in the ‘90s. We figured out a way to make it “safer” without egg to serve to students. Not something I’m terribly proud of 20 years later.

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

I started working in fine dining when I was 16 years old at a restaurant that specialized in Australian Rock Lobster. As kid busboys (commonly referred to as “bus dogs”), we used to eat whatever the waiters and waitresses left in the lobster shell after they served it to the customer—before it hit the trashcan! Later, a chef started saving the shells for lobster bisque. We were so bummed, until we got hooked on lobster bisque. It quickly became a new taste sensation that we loved. I still love today.

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

Any “fad” diet. A “diet” should be balanced, addressing the nutritional needs of individuals.

Q. Read the book or see the movie?

Read the book, then see the movie. Reading provides visuals in your mind that could never possible be duplicated in a theater.

Q. Are you a morning or evening person?

Mornings are usually best for me. My brain functions best with about 8 hours of sleep.

Q. What are your words to live by?

I recently heard Bill Hybels say, “When leaders get better, everyone wins.” I believe this and adopted the words as my own.

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

As long as I had a round-trip ticket, I would go hang out with Mr. Jefferson. I am fascinated by early America and colonial times. I think it would be cool to see Thomas Jefferson in action and learn leadership skills from the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.

 

Q. What do you value most in a friend?

A loving, serving spirit.

Q. What would be your dream vacation?

Touring Italy’s wine country with my beautiful wife in a Ferrari.

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

My grandfather, Howard Sievers. He was a great man who put serving others and family at the top of his life’s priorities.

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

Skiing in the Swiss Alps.

Q. Who is your favorite celebrity chef?

Sam Kass, White House assistant chef and senior policy advisor for healthy food initiatives. Talk about using your influence to make a difference! Way to go Sam!

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
dancing fruit happy

When editor Jill Failla and I sat down to discuss ideas for this month’s cover story, data from FoodService Director’s sister company Technomic was the spark that lit the flame of conversation. She told me the most recent Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report had found that consumers are more willing to order and pay more for items they think are both healthy and tasteful. My questions: OK, what does that look like in practice? How does it factor into operators’ decision-making processes? And what the heck do we call that phenomenon?

After tossing around some ideas, we had it: the...

Managing Your Business
uconn gluten free bakery

When Amarillo Independent School District opened a central bakery , the foodservice team faced years of challenges: getting a handle on equipment, refining recipes and planning for shrinkage, says Michael Brungo, residential district manager of dining services for Chartwells at the Amarillo, Texas, district. Through trial and error, the right solutions at the bakery—which provides sliced bread and sandwich buns for the district’s 55 schools—rose to the top.

Though kitchens in general can be a minefield of issues, bakeries present some unique challenges thanks in part to the finicky...

Ideas and Innovation
torch flame

There’s more than one way to open a wine bottle. When a corkscrew is nowhere to be found, David Brue—chef de cuisine and production manager for The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s central production kitchen in Columbus, Ohio—reaches for his butane torch.

“I can never find a corkscrew anywhere, but for some reason, I always have a torch,” Brue says. “Heat the neck of the bottle carefully, and the cork pops right out.”

Managing Your Business
food safety manager paperwork

Food safety can be a lot to handle, requiring plenty of paperwork and diligence to ensure a kitchen complies with health regulations. It’s important to assess the structure of a food safety program —and to know what’s required, and what’s just good to have on hand.

In recent years, as Virginia Tech’s foodservice operations have expanded, so has its Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points strategy. The Blacksburg, Va., university doubled its food safety staff to two employees, in addition to a training project coordinator and a manager to teach basic food safety classes to...

FSD Resources