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

Ideas and Innovation
phone bed call sick

We make people call and directly talk to their boss or supervisor if they are reporting an absence for a shift. While it is more cumbersome, it is a conscious decision. We have adapted and implemented electronic methods to obtain efficiencies in just about every other functional area, except for electronic absence reporting systems. The direct supervisor can put more pressure on an employee to show up—especially those with some form of the “Super Bowl plague”—than any electronic system can.

Menu Development
ranch dressing chicken fingers

While salad bars are often the first place K-12 operators look to incorporate more fresh produce, few go as far as making their own salad dressings. But last fall, in a continuing effort to transition from prepackaged meals to an all-scratch menu, Mark Augustine, executive chef of culinary and nutrition services for Minneapolis Public Schools, switched to concocting four varieties in-house—ranch, Caesar, Italian and Asian vinaigrette. The move, designed to eliminate artificial ingredients and lower fat and sodium, presented the biggest challenge when it came to ranch dressing, the school-...

Ideas and Innovation
business card

We get the new folks abridged business cards saying, “Hi, my name is so-and-so and I work in nutrition department.” We thought it would give them more ownership of the program and elevate their status and position in the organization. It also gives our team more self-confidence and self-worth as an employee, which can be a challenge with foodservice workers.

Ideas and Innovation
tug hospital robot

Automation has opened up in recent years as foodservice operators across the country grapple with labor shortages. Robots deliver food trays to patients in hospitals, and they make sushi on college campuses. For some operators, they’re worthwhile to reduce strain on human employees and increase productivity.

Robots roamed the hallways when the University of California San Francisco Medical Center’s new Mission Bay campus opened last year. Though these robots have nicknames like Wall-E and Tuggie McFresh, they’re not a novelty. They’re a solution to a problem that administrators...

FSD Resources