Cavin Sullivan: Artistic Aspirations

Since jumping into foodservice right out of high school, Cavin Sullivan has cultivated his natural talent for making food beautiful into a position as general manager at The J.M. Smucker Company in Orrville, Ohio. At this Metz & Associates account, he uses this talent, along with his ability to lead a team, to serve the company’s 1,100 employees between 500 and 600 meals per day. 

Since coming to the Smucker Company in 2004, Sullivan has led a successful transition from the campus’ old dining facility—which was located in the manufacturing plant—to a new facility with a state-of-the-art conference center. Since the new cafeteria opened in April, sales have increased by 50% and guest counts have increased by 25%.

“Our participation at the old facility was really low,” Sullivan says. “It was located in the manufacturing plant, so a lot of the corporate people chose not to walk over there. When the new facility opened, participation increased by 50% and we’ve sustained that.”

Sullivan says the most challenging part of managing the move—which took place over four weeks—was the fact that the new facility was integrating some of the former café’s equipment into its plan.

“Smucker’s wanted to keep the café going without any shutdown, so the challenge was to keep people fed but gradually reduce what we were offering over there, while still keeping people happy. For example, when we lost the grill we added more pizzas and  strombolis, and once that station went away we did pre-made sandwiches and boxed lunches to try to come up with things they hadn’t seen before.”

Other challenges with the move included the addition of six positions, which included staff for the conference center, and determining what kind of volume the new facility would be facing. Sullivan says Executive Chef Ken Edwards was instrumental in the transition by coordinating all the new menus, recipes, purchasing and inventory. For his part,

Edwards says it is Sullivan’s talent for organization that makes the operation so successful.

“I think this is one of the most organized accounts that I’ve ever worked at, in terms of how the catering is set up and how the staff is dealt with,” Edwards says. “Cavin is a very organized person and that’s a big key for our organization. It makes things run smoothly.”

Smuckers cafe, FSD of the Month, Cavin SullivanCombining healthy forces: The facility features new stations such as an enhanced pizza/pasta concept, where staff prepare bruschetta, strombolis, pizzas and pasta, and a cook-to-order station, which features international fare as well as specialty salads. Other stations include a grill, deli and a large salad bar that features organic produce. Sullivan adds that the Smucker Company is committed to supporting the community so he purchases locally—items such as beef, dairy, produce and chips—whenever he can. Sullivan has also merged Metz & Associates’ healthy eating program, HEALTHchecks, with the Smucker Company’s own program, called “Good and Good for You.”

“Smucker’s program was more about healthy living, not just food,” Sullivan says. “Metz focused more on the nutrition side of it and developed a lot of health-conscious recipes with nutritional analysis. So we just tailored Metz’s program for the Smucker Company by using the “Good and Good For You” logo, but the recipes are from the HEALTHchecks program.” The “Good and Good for You” logo appears on healthier options, which are scattered throughout the facility. Sullivan also was able to upgrade the menu, so they are using more upscale ingredients like shrimp and flank steak. 
Sullivan also has increased catering sales because of the space he has in the new facility. The new conference center, located upstairs from the café, has one room that can seat about 600 people and several breakaway rooms that seat about 20 to 30.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
shrimp lemon

In an interview with Bon Appetit magazine, Victor Clay, a line cook at Nobu Dallas in Texas, reveals his two simple tricks to prep an average of 15 to 20 shrimp per minute.

First, use kitchen shears to split the back of the shrimp. Then, before removing the vein, run the shrimp under cold water, which will loosen the vein. This cuts down on cleaning time, and prevents cooks from having to soak and rinse the shrimp afterward.

Menu Development
beau rivage resort blended burger

Stealth health is so 1998. When author Evelyn Tribole’s original book on sneaking healthy add-ons into meals was published nearly 20 years ago, there may have been a genuine nutrition need to fill. But as today’s diners are increasingly requesting more produce at the center of the plate, another need has taken the lead: a desire for creativity. Here’s how operators are openly blending meat with other ingredients—or eliminating animal products entirely—to take protein to another level.

In April, dining halls at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., began offering the Beyond Burger, a...

Ideas and Innovation
desserts plate

We’re knocking down a wall in our bar area, which will create a more inviting atmosphere and allow us to host a coffee and dessert bar in the space on off nights when the bar is closed.

Industry News & Opinion
nacufs award

Ohio University Director of Culinary Services Rich Neumann was on Wednesday evening awarded NACUFS’ 49th annual Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.

Neumann’s foodservice career began as an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. After his first day as a student cook, he says, his production manager wanted to fire him because he was striving for perfection, not—as she put it—“now and fast.” But he kept with it, eventually moving up to student manager. “If I had quit, I would not be here today,” he says.

During...

FSD Resources