People in Foodservice

Christine Barnett

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Christine Barnett

Top accomplishment this year:
Regional winner of the Rising Star Award within Sodexo Senior Living.

What’s been your most rewarding moment?
My most rewarding moments are when residents attend and enjoy the occasional nutrition presentations I give featuring healthy snacks or desserts. Last March, we made “nice cream,” an ice cream alternative using frozen bananas pureed in a blender with other fruit and spices. Residents really seem to enjoy events like these, and of course it helps when they compliment my recipe.

What would you like to accomplish in your career in the long term?
I would really like to teach or mentor interns and new dietitians in some higher capacity once I gain more experience and education. I enjoy teaching, empowering, sharing my experiences and learning from others.

How do you think the industry will change in the next five years? How do you think that will impact your goals and career?
I think there is a push to include more locally sourced ingredients in all realms of the foodservice industry. The farm-to-table movement is making headway, and I am excited to see where it goes. This will positively impact my goals and career, because I think the clients will appreciate knowing where their food came from and may be more open to trying new, healthy foods.

Deck: 

Clinical Dietitian
Sodexo at Claremont Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
Carlisle, Pa.
Age 27

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
10
Type: 
Rank

Fernando Costa

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Fernando Costa

Top accomplishment this year:
Together with my team, made a positive impact in our patients’ lives with little gestures or conversations.

What experience have you learned an important lesson from?
I am the safety champion for the state of Michigan, and I have learned a lot just by following up on injury reports. I always take a lesson from all of them, and I always try to share it within the region, so my mission is to ensure that all my associates can return home injury-free.

Do you use or view technology differently than your coworkers? If so, how?
I love technology. I’m always trying to innovate and create new tools to help the operation. I designed a menu slide for one of the accounts, and it became a best practice within the state of Michigan. Earlier this year, I also developed a sales tracker for retail sales.

What attracted you to the noncommercial foodservice segment?
Noncommercial healthcare is more human than restaurants, where you are entertaining. I feel so humbled after rounds at some of the units in the hospital.

Deck: 

Director of Food & Nutrition Services
Crittenton Hospital Medical Center
Rochester, Mich.
Age 32

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
9
Type: 
Rank

David Brue

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David Brue

Top accomplishment this year:
Conceptualized and implemented the menu for our newest retail concept, a smoothie bar that features ingredients known to promote brain health.

What’s been your most rewarding moment?
I was able to speak at the 2015 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago on cook-chill in healthcare and running a successful decentralized foodservice model. It was truly an honor to speak to such an accomplished group of chefs and foodservice operators.

What would you like to accomplish in your career in the short term?
I would like to be more involved in teaching classes. I find that sharing food knowledge only makes all of us better culinarians. The more we know about food, the better it can taste, and the more we can benefit from its health benefits.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Having a family, finishing college and holding down a full-time job at night to make ends meet. It really taught me how to manage the time in my day, which in turn really helped me learn how to manage my time in the workplace.

Deck: 

Chef De Cuisine, Production Manager for Central Production Kitchen
The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center
Columbus, Ohio
Age 37

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
8
Type: 
Rank

Patti Ramos

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Patti Ramos

Top accomplishment this year:
Starting a food waste diversion program with on-site composting at Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital, where I previously held a director role.

What’s been your most rewarding moment?
When my associates tell me they appreciate me after I’ve taken time to explain or do something for them. Our people are truly the heart of our business, and without them we would not be able to serve our patients and customers. Even on the most difficult days, they are what make the long hours worth it.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
It is often difficult to manage those who are older than you, especially those who have more experience in foodservice. I’ve also received comments of how I “look so young” or “am so small,” or that I’m a young female in a director role, which is uncommon. I’ve learned to stand up for myself and my abilities, as age, size and gender should never dictate ability. Likewise, I’ve learned the importance of treating others with respect, always listening to opinions, and being mindful of generational differences in communication and workplace expectations.

What do you value most in a workplace? Are there any ways your workplace delivers on that?
Ideas and creativity—what change is fueled by. I do my best to listen to my managers’ and associates’ ideas and make them a reality.

Deck: 

Assistant Director of Food & Nutrition
Touchpoint at St. John Providence Hospital
Southfield, Mich.
Age 29

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
7
Type: 
Rank

Brianna Benedict

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Brianna Benedict

Top accomplishment this year:
Moving into the pediatric field to work with kids.

What would you say you excel at over more seasoned employees?
I am always looking for the next best thing. How can I implement a system to make something work better? How can I find a way to get the kids involved with their food? Without the innovation I am around daily, my job could get redundant.

What do you value most in a workplace? Are there any ways your workplace delivers on that?
Open communication and respect are by far the most important to me. These are things that I work on daily in my kitchen, and they are a work in progress. I am a straight shooter when it comes to my staff; I believe that when I am honest with them, they respect what I am saying.

What's the one thing you wish you could change about the industry?
I wish people were more open to all we have to offer. I don’t want to just drop meals off and leave. I want to understand who my residents are and what they like. I want to know how they take their coffee and what ice cream flavor is their favorite. It is important to make those connections to better serve them. 

Deck: 

General Manager II
Sodexo at St. Margaret’s Center
Albany, N.Y.
Age 24

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
6
Type: 
Rank

Katrina Flores

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Katrina Flores

Top accomplishment this year:
Coaching and training three employees into a higher position within Sodexo, and piloting a new menu that could change the entire region’s cooking procedures.

What would you say you excel at over more seasoned employees?
I have a huge passion for my career and work, and put pride into every single thing I do. I never want anyone to question my work or position based on my age. A lot of times, since I look young, people wonder if I am capable of the job. While some people would break down or feel discouraged, it gives me motivation to prove people wrong and show them what I can bring to the table.

What experience have you learned an important lesson from?
In my current role, I have learned how important recognition and praise is to individuals. With my employees, I see not only a difference in their performance, but also in their attitudes. Individuals are also more willing to be coached when they feel valued. Most importantly, my employees feel comfortable coming to me about work or personal issues. It helps to create more of a team atmosphere.

What's the one thing you wish you could change about the industry?
Attitude and language. Kitchens are known to be a little vulgar due to the high stress the jobs bring. I believe in a rule of no profanity in the kitchen and always positive attitudes. It creates a lighter atmosphere, and as a result people are able to be more productive and enjoy their work tasks—even deep-cleaning ovens.

Deck: 

General Manager, Food II
Sodexo at ManorCare Health Services—Largo
Upper Marlboro, Md.
Age 25

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
5
Type: 
Rank

Amanda Velez

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Amanda Velez

Top accomplishment this year:
Building strong relationships with servers as a young manager.

What would you say you excel at over more seasoned employees?
I organize and plan catering events. I take the time to call residents, their guests or outside customers to accommodate all their party needs. In the past, catering struggled with organization skills; I have created a system from scratch to keep things running smoothly that includes making up a catering menu, scheduling servers (who I train for catered events) and assuring proper cooks are on board to assist in the food preparation.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
We have adopted a policy in our main dining room that residents’ walkers must be taken after they are seated and parked into “safety areas.” This was an extreme challenge; as you can imagine, no one enjoys their belongings taken away from them, even for short periods. We have come to a steady understanding between staff and residents that valeting walkers is for a safer dining experience.

How do you think the industry will change in the next five years? How do you think that will impact your goals and career?
I believe technology will change the industry. It will give us more shortcuts, providing accommodating information to residents on hand rather than “Let me get back to you on that.”

Deck: 

Executive Dining Room Manager
Sodexo at Arbor Glen
Bridgewater, N.J.
Age 25

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
4
Type: 
Rank

Shayne McCrady

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Shayne McCrady

Top accomplishment this year:
Earning the 2016 Central Region Student Chef of the Year Award from the American Culinary Federation.

What would you say you excel at over more seasoned employees?
How quick I can adapt to change, from rules to new menus.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Long hours and lots of labor. When times get stressful in a kitchen and people lose motivation or start yelling, you’re trying to also keep your cool.

How do you think the industry will change in the next five years?
I think as technology grows, things will start to move faster and that only means faster turnover.

Deck: 

Line Cook
The Gatesworth
St. Louis
Age 22

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
3
Type: 
Rank

Aidan Carr-Henderson

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Aidan Carr Henderson

Top accomplishment this year:
Winning Ohio Living’s Top Sous Chef award for 2017.

What’s been your most rewarding moment?
At a time in life where our residents are looking back on full and accomplished lives, it makes me very happy to be able to provide a small bit of the Tardis (the time machine in “Dr. Who”) to transport our diners to a different time in their lives with fond memories. This is not an easy feat by any means, and certainly not one that happens every day. But when I arrive in the morning and see feedback from the previous day that alludes to this experience, I can’t wait to happily share the achievement with our staff.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Noncommercial foodservice staffing can be difficult to the point where you are taking anyone who is interested and training them from the ground up, versus having a pool of hungry young culinarians who will fight among themselves just to show you how well they can brunoise a pepper. This also means thick skin can be in short supply, so checking your attitude and approach to managing staff at the door becomes crucial.

What attracted you to the noncommercial foodservice segment?
Initially, it was the ability to have more of a “normal” life schedule as my family began to grow, as well as the opportunities for more professional growth paths. It quickly became clear to me that with the newfound occasional weekend off came the chance to be a part of providing hospitality beyond just a fancy dining experience: whole life hospitality. 

Deck: 

Sous Chef
Ohio Living Cape May
Wilmington, Ohio
Age 34

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
2
Type: 
Rank

Amanda Goldie

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Amanda Goldie

Top accomplishment this year:
Becoming the youngest director in my region.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Age-related skepticism is a challenge that I face as a young, new director. More seasoned employees are oftentimes skeptical of youth and it can require more time to earn their respect.

What do you value most in a workplace?
Transparent and open communication. It’s important for any employee to feel valued and heard; often that means they will want to contribute more.

What's the one thing you wish you could change about the industry?
I wish all industries and employees would be mindful of food waste. Food waste is often a big factor in our industry. However, companies have been coming up with ways to eliminate food waste.

Deck: 

Director of Dining Services
Morrison Community Living
Village at Morrisons Cove
Martinsburg, Pa.
Age 27

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
1
Type: 
Rank

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