Confessions of Steve Mangan

Published in FSD Update

Steve Mangan is trying to visit all the national parks, wishes he could speed up his metabolism and doesn’t love homemade peanut brittle.

Steve Mangan, general manager with Sodexo at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill., is trying to visit all the national parks, wishes he could speed up his metabolism and doesn’t love homemade peanut brittle.

Q. What is the best part of your job?

Meeting students, faculty and staff from all over the country and the world that are passionate about food, nutrition and sustainability.

Q. What is the worst part of your job?

I miss the personal interaction that email has replaced.

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

A 40-year marriage to Betsy and my two great sons, Andrew and Christopher.

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

We developed an event built around molecular gastronomy and technology last year at Northwestern.

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

I was studying physiology in grad school and dropped out to go to culinary school at the CIA. Exercise physiology has become an interest of mine.

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

It might be fun to join the entourage of Catherine De Medici as she traveled across France on her Grand Voyage de France trying to heal the divided nation in 1564. As they moved across France, her court cooks introduced new recipes, ingredients and methodologies brought from Renaissance Italy to the local cooks in the towns they visited.

Q. Which talent would you most like to have?

I would like to learn to draw and paint.

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

Wouldn’t it be great if we could ramp up our metabolism to burn up all the butter, cream and bacon that we would like to eat?

Q. Which living person do you most admire?

I’m a fan of anyone who makes a difference in whatever endeavor they choose to do and uses their energy and talent to contribute to the community around them.

Q. What would be your dream vacation?

I would love to ride my bike across the country if I had the time.

Q. What is your favorite meal?

I enjoy any meal that has great food, with family and friends.

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

I’d like to sit with Auguste Escoffier, with 20 courses prepared by his brigade, complete with his thinking for each course and a wine pairing from the grand cru vineyards in France.

Q. What is your "guilty pleasure?"

Homemade peanut brittle.

Q. What will people always find in your refrigerator?

I keep basics stocked in the frig or cupboard to enable a quick but nutritious dinner when I get home from work. I like to cook a meal for two. Onions, garlic, lemons, limes, some kind of fresh or frozen vegetable, fresh or frozen salmon, shrimp and pork. I’ll keep an assortment of oils and vinegars, pasta and grains in the pantry. Twenty minutes and we are dining. 

Q. What is your most treasured possession?

My 1928 Gibson Mastertone banjo, passed down to me from my father who played it in a speakeasy back in the day. 

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

Chocolate-covered bacon, fried Twinkies and chemical anything, like 5 Hour Energy drinks.

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

My wife and I are trying to visit all the national parks; we schedule a few each year.

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

Fried ants from Colombia.

Q. Are you a morning or evening person?

I’m preferring mornings lately. I guess I don’t miss my restaurant days with 2 a.m. closings.

Q. What are your words to live by?

Do what you say you are going to do when you said you will do it. And don’t forget to have some fun on the way.