Steve Mangan: Sharpening the culinary focus

Steve Mangan has enhanced the foodservice department at Northwestern University by incorporating a global influence to menus by interacting with students and faculty.

At a Glance

  • 3,835 students on a meal plan
  • More than 26,500 meals served per day
  • 410 employees
  • 6 participants in the Manager-In-Training Program

Accomplishments

Steve Mangan has enhanced the foodservice department at Northwestern University by:

  • Aligning the strategy of the dining services program with that of the nationally ranked university through menu development and community outreach
  • Applying a culinary focus to remap the dining services program by establishing chef managers as department leaders
  • Incorporating a global influence to menus by interacting with students and faculty
  • Developing staff through culinary training and certification for advancement of their careers and betterment of the department

Aworld-class university deserves a world-class dining program. That’s the job for which Steve Mangan was hired. In his nearly four years at the helm at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill., Mangan, general manager for Sodexo, has led the dining services team in redeveloping the program, from the food to the opportunities provided beyond the plate.

For Mangan, to be a part of this nationally recognized institution (Northwestern is No. 12 in US News & World Report’s National University Rankings), it was essential that the dining program operate with the same standards of quality and align with the university’s mission and values. He has achieved that by filtering department activity through a culinary lens.

“Chefs innovate change, they want new things and they want to do different things all the time,” he explains. “Northwestern University has a global reach, we’ve got people from all over the world here. Our cooks are from all over as well, so we can match this interest in global experiences with our team and integrate it very easily.”

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, assistant vice president of student auxiliary services, praises Mangan’s approach. “Steve has an energy level that I think is infectious. Bringing his chef’s perspective along with his manager’s perspective I think has allowed him to … align the mission and the goals and the strategy of Sodexo with that of Northwestern. All [of the program elements are] coming full circle, so it’s great that they’re a fully integrated partner, not just someone we hired to run the food program.”

Mangan credits obtaining student feedback as another element of the department’s success. “We have to engage with our customers on a regular basis, whether it’s a one-on-one interaction in a dining hall or in the line at Starbucks, to having food committees in each of the [residence] halls that the chefs run, [to] our dietitian interacting with students all the time [so that] we have a good understanding of special needs.”

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
business man smash computer

Foodservice directors spend a lot of time taking care of other people, whether it’s K-12 students who aren’t always eating enough at home, malnourished patients back for return visits or employees squabbling among themselves. That kind of pressure can weigh heavily—and come home from work. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America finds that 83% of men and 72% of women say stress at work carries over into their personal lives, and 50% call staff management their main culprit for workplace stress.

“Stress is very difficult in our world, and work-life balance is very much a...

Industry News & Opinion

Students at an Arkansas high school may have to take creative measures to get a meal, thanks to a school policy that prevents parents from dropping off lunches left at home.

The Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock, Ark., last week posted a picture on Facebook of a sign that reads, “Stop. If you are dropping off your son’s forgotten lunch, books, homework, equipment, etc., please turn around and exit the building. Your son will learn to problem-solve in your absence.”

While social media opinions on the school’s rule were mixed, some commenters expressed concern that...

Industry News & Opinion

Novato Unified School District in Novato, Calif., has created a new vegetarian grab-and-go item as part of the district’s Meatless Monday initiative, marinij.com reports .

The Fiesta Rice and Bean Shaker, which is served in disposable cups, contains rice, corn, black beans, taco seasoning, corn tortilla chips and romaine lettuce topped with an optional salsa and ranch dressing. It’s also customizable, as students are able to select which ingredients they’d like to include.

The vegetarian shaker is made using produce from a nearby organic garden. Sofie Garcia, an employee in...

Industry News & Opinion

High school students in Dallastown Area School District in Dallastown, Pa., will soon see the addition of live prep stations in their cafeteria, as well as an area where they can access food at any time during the school day.

The district has partnered with Chartwells for the revamp, which will allow students to watch their food being prepared and also includes the addition of new menu items, says the York Dispatch .

Chartwells’ mid-Atlantic dietitian, Aliza Stern, believes these changes will be welcomed by students as they become increasingly interested in different types...

FSD Resources