Ila Galanti, R.D.

Ila Galanti planned new recipes and implemented salad bars at the University of Chicago.

Why Selected?

According to Kathy Cacciola, senior director of environmental sustainability for Aramark, Ila has made an impact in dining services at the University of Chicago by:

• Implementing a salad bar in the dining hall, which offers premade salads with locally grown produce

• Working with the culinary staff to create new dining hall recipes that reflect seasonality, which helps increase the percentage of locally purchased food

• Planning an Earth Week dinner and working with the campus Sustainability Council to support initiatives such as an anti-bottled water campaign and composting  

Details

Resident Registered Dietitian (Aramark), University of Chicago
Age: 27
Education: B.S. in nutritional sciences from the University of Arizona
Years at organization: 2

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Developing a system to identify allergens, ingredients, vegan and vegetarian options and local food sources in our recipes for point-of-service signage. This system has enabled us to better engage the students in dining. 

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

Focus on the big picture, and good communication is often the key to success. 

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

Redirecting the misinformation that students receive from the Internet/media. I meet with a lot of students who feel there are not healthy options available. But what I find most often is that they have a skewed sense of what is healthy based on fad diets and unsubstantiated claims that are made throughout the industry.  

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

I planned a focus group for students with food allergies. The event went really well and our clients sent a really nice thank you letter to our leadership team that included a note of appreciation of how much they valued my work. The outcome of this event was stronger engagement with a key group of students and a higher satisfaction level with the options available. 

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

I would like to expand our ability to offer locally produced food. I would like to increase the presence of healthy and vegan and vegetarian options in our dining facilities.

Q. What's been your funniest on-the-job disaster?

When I was an intern I planned the dining table for the outdoor Earth Day festival. I had just moved to Chicago from Arizona and thought that the weather during late April would be nice, and people would want something cold to drink. I planned to give away iced tea. The day of the festival was freezing and raining and, needless to say, no one wanted iced tea.

Under 30

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources