People in Foodservice

Yascha Martini

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Yascha Martini

Top accomplishment this year:
Hosting our first-ever Discipline-Free Banquet, which was designed to both recognize and reward offenders who avoided receiving any discipline over the course of a year, encouraging others to know that everyone matters and plays a part in the overall atmosphere of the institution.

What’s been your most rewarding moment?
Anytime I can help teach offenders basic foodservice skills and instill a sense of confidence and self-worth, it is extremely rewarding. I try my best to make sure that my offender workers understand that foodservice is not only a job, but a life skill that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.

What would you like to accomplish in your career in the short term?
Over the course of the next year, my goal is to roll out a new Fundamentals of Food Handling program for offender workers, which will allow them to get additional training and pay while working in foodservice. It also gives them the opportunity to get ServSafe certification for no charge, so they can take something positive away and improve their chances at becoming productive members of society.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
The turnover rate for offender workers in my kitchen. The offenders are constantly switching positions, getting new jobs, getting released or getting fired, so the training never ends. But whether I believe it or just tell myself it to help preserve sanity, I believe the bigger the challenge, the more rewarding it is when you succeed.

Deck: 

Food Service Supervisor, Minnesota Department of Corrections
Shakopee Correctional Facility
Shakopee, Minn.
Age 34

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
30
Type: 
Rank

Jacqueline Torres

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Jacqueline Torres

Top accomplishment this year:
Being recognized with my name displayed at Code 7 Cafe for baking pastries and making delicious desserts.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Getting too comfortable in one place in baking and finding ways to challenge myself so that I can be great at everything versus being good at one thing.

What do you value most in a workplace?
I really love where I work because if I ever need anything—a repair, tools, ingredients—they’re on it. A happy baker means sweet treats for everyone.

What attracted you to the noncommercial foodservice segment?
I like to do things that make me stand out from the crowd, things that challenge me. I’m continually growing.
 

Deck: 

Pastry Chef/Baker
Utah County Corrections Food Services
Spanish Fork, Utah
Age 25

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
29
Type: 
Rank

Jennifer Takara

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Jennifer Takara

Top accomplishment this year:
Achieving two years of injury-free opening weeks for new accounts with consistent new-hire orientations and a management habit called “safety management by walking around.”

What would you say you excel at over more seasoned employees?
I’m willing to help in any way I can, no matter how menial the task. When the team you support sees you working as hard as they are, and they sense that you’re willing to go to any length to ensure they succeed, it changes your work relationship. All of a sudden, you’re a leader they can trust rather than a manager who reacts only to negative stats.

Do you use or view technology differently than your coworkers? If so, how?
More and more of our HR processes are automated. Less paperwork can be a good thing in many ways, from improved document retention to reduced paper waste. We need to realize the effect this has on the way we do business, and take care to inject the “human” in HR into everything you do. For example, when all new-hire onboarding is performed online, which is quickly becoming the standard, we must take extra care to spend one-on-one time developing an understanding.

What keeps you up at night?
The staffing shortage in the San Francisco Bay Area. Anecdotally, the struggle has only worsened for employees earning low wages. Employees are leaving this high-cost area.

Deck: 

Regional Manager of Recruitment and Safety
Bon Appetit Management Co.
San Francisco
Age 29

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
28
Type: 
Rank

Desmond Fannin

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Desmond Fannin

Top accomplishment this year:
Helped onboard 25 international chefs and sent three U.S. chefs abroad for Sodexo’s Global Chef Exchange program.

What’s been your most rewarding moment?
One of my most rewarding moments came 10 years ago, when I was selected as one of 12 culinary professionals to represent Sodexo as we provided foodservice during the Rugby World Cup in Paris. That moment really showed me how much my leadership valued my work and my service to the company.

What would you like to accomplish in your career in the long term?
I would like to be able to help as many culinary professionals grow their careers, live out their culinary dreams and create a stable career that would provide personal fulfilment and support to their families.

What's the one thing you wish you could change about the industry?
I would change the fact that many people think that the CEO is more important than the grill cook or the dishwasher.

Deck: 

Director, Culinary Training & Support, Culinary Solutions
Sodexo
Gaithersburg, Md.
Age 37

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
27
Type: 
Rank

Aileen Schuh

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Aileen Schuh

Top accomplishment this year:
Promoted to oversee conference centers in Chicago and Dallas.

What’s been your most rewarding moment?
Planning and executing an event for 3,200 attendees. It takes several hours of planning and working with a great team to have an event like this come together.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest challenge has been being in a career where every day is different. There is always a last-minute change, and I have to think quickly for a resolution. The meeting trends are constantly changing and I need to ensure I’m aware of these changes. I enjoy this challenge because it keeps the job interesting and there is never a dull day at work.

What experience have you learned an important lesson from?
I need to ensure I’m actively listening and giving my full attention to the person I’m speaking with. We are often trying to do too many things at one time, and we really don’t hear what that person is telling us. I need to stop what I’m doing and listen to what they have to say. By not being engaged, I may miss some really important details.
 

Deck: 

General Manager, Conference Services
FLIK Hospitality at Blue Cross Blue Shield
Richardson, Texas
Age 32

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
26
Type: 
Rank

Christiana Castillo

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Christiana Castillo

Top accomplishment this year:
Being recognized as a “rising star” from my leadership team, which has allowed me to attend national events, create relationships with leaders in our sector and participate in decision-making meetings for my division.

What would you say you excel at over more seasoned employees?
Being a millennial, I’m able to provide insight to what the age group is interested in (in terms of food and technology), and I’d like to think I’m pretty tech-savvy.

What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
“Never turn down a job because it’s not glamorous. Foodservice is a huge industry—the more well-rounded you are, the more successful you will be.”

What attracted you to the noncommercial foodservice segment?
I really liked the consistency—from the weekday schedules to working with the same team members to the consistent population we serve daily. As a dietitian, I’m able to work with our clients to assess employees’ health needs and alter our menus and wellness programs appropriately and actually track our progress. This industry allows me to pursue my passion for foodservice and community health and wellness together.

Deck: 

Regional Director of Wellness and Sustainability
Eurest at Johnson & Johnson
Multiple locations
Age 28

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
25
Type: 
Rank

Paige Willauer

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Paige Willauer

Top accomplishment this year:
Becoming general manager for Centerplate at the Long Island Ducks’ home ballpark.

What’s been your most rewarding moment?
My current concessions manager was an intern just last season. It has been incredibly fulfilling to see his growth, going from someone who did not know anything about our industry to someone who has taken the reins over and is confident in being a leader. It is rewarding to pay it forward, and see how he has acclimated to this new role.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Definitely the amount of moving that I have done. There was a time when I was at an account and in a city for six months at the most, basically for a season at a time. Moving that much has you living mainly out of a car, but it has also opened the doors to so many more opportunities that I would not have been afforded had I stayed in one place.

What attracted you to the noncommercial foodservice segment?
I was originally looking at going into restaurants after college, but then I took the one noncommercial market class my school offered. In that class, we broke down everything that happens for a noncommercial site. I soon saw that the noncommercial market offers the chance to do everything right from the onset—from the quick serve in a concession stand to the plated five-course meal. For example, here at the Ducks I have concession stands downstairs and a full-service restaurant and suites upstairs. For one event, my staff offers such an array of service, always with a unique set of challenges. You won’t get that kind of challenge anywhere else in the industry at such a young age.

Deck: 

General Manager, Long Island Ducks
Centerplate at Bethpage Ballpark
Central Islip, N.Y.
Age 27

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
24
Type: 
Rank

Chris Morgan

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Chris Morgan

Top accomplishment this year:
Taking over operations at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

What keeps you up at night?
Working these crazy schedules, sometimes you are able to just pass out. But most of the time, I’m stuck up at night trying to think of the next big thing. Everything moves so fast in our space, and you can quickly get left behind.

What attracted you to the noncommercial foodservice segment?
Every day is different and I couldn’t think of a better situation for me. It keeps things very exciting.

How do you think the industry will change in the next five years? How do you think that will impact your goals and career?
The industry will change because of people. We’re seeing more educated, more informed and more active customers and employees. To accomplish my goals, I need to make sure I stay on top of those changing markets. I’ve gotten to this point by doing that and will need to continue to be vigilant in that endeavor.

Deck: 

General Manager
Centerplate at AT&T Park
San Francisco
Age 32

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
23
Type: 
Rank

Kevin Ealy

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Kevin Ealy

Top accomplishment this year:
Being nominated by student employees to receive the department’s Wu Mentor Award for excellence in mentorship.

What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
A piece of advice from my father: “Know that you may not always be the smartest person in the room, and that you definitely won’t always have the right answer.” Listening to peers and co-workers regarding their ideas and opinions is a critical element for success in any venture.

What would you like to accomplish in your career in the short term?
I am hoping to establish the University of Illinois Dining Services Student Programs Office as an example for colleges across the country. I am working to develop training and retention programs that will significantly reduce our student turnover rate and make Dining Services jobs some of the most desirable jobs on campus.

What keeps you up at night?
One or more of our units being understaffed. I can remember what it was like to work in one of our dining facilities with minimal staffing. I want to be sure everyone has all the help they need, and that their help has been properly prepared to handle their job. It is hard to sleep when I know we may have staff and managers that have to struggle to maintain our level of excellent customer service. That, and when the Cubs beat the Cardinals.

Deck: 

Student Programs Coordinator
University of Illinois Housing Dining Services
Champaign, Ill.
Age 33

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
22
Type: 
Rank

Cyril Ortigosa-Liaz

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Cyril Ortigosa-Liaz

Top accomplishment this year:
Participating in an American Culinary Federation culinary competition, which included a four-course mystery basket, and receiving feedback that the dishes were tasty and elegant.

What would you say you excel at over more seasoned employees? 
Adaptability. I worked for a long time as a seasonal employee, going through many of the greatest places every four to six months. I worked in new environments with new chefs, kitchens, menus and customer expectations, all the time, all the way around this beautiful country. That taught me how to adapt within a few days, not weeks or months.

What do you value most in a workplace? Are there any ways your workplace delivers on that?
Diversity. It’s awesome, and Yale definitively delivers big time on that. I ask my staff before Thanksgiving what they are up to, and the conversation goes on, turkey, mashed potatoes cranberry sauce. Sure enough a Jamaican colleague says, “Drum barrel, jerk turkey, red rice and beans, coconut milk.” That’s awesome and makes you a better cook, too.
 
What’s the only thing you wish you could change about the industry?
The equipment. They need to come up with a standard where we can easily interchange the top: Asian wok one day, crepes at night, paella and plancha the next day, flexibility. It’s archaic to think that a cooking station can only cook one thing for the next 25 years for such a high cost.

Deck: 

Second Cook
Yale University
New Haven, Conn.
Age 39

Year: 
2017
Page Order: 
21
Type: 
Rank

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