OCH CoverOn-Campus Hospitality

Overview — April 2012


Honoring Excellence


We were very happy to hear that it was Mary Molt, assistant director of Housing and Dining Services at Kansas State University (K-State) in Manhattan, who was named the recipient of the 2012 Silver Plate Award in the Colleges and Universities category from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA). She truly deserves the honor.

When we called to congratulate her, she was her typical humble self — she wasn't about to take all the credit. She spoke of the people who have helped her get where she is and all of those who have to “put up” with her. She thanked NACUFS for the opportunity to be around “people who are a lot smarter” than she is.

No, Mary, of course you couldn't have done it alone, but we speak for a lot of people when we say that it has been an honor to “put up” with you. You are indeed one of the “smart” ones.

Dedication to students? Obvious in the fact that she has worked at K-State for nearly 40 years and never taken a sick leave day.

Mary is one of the many people who make us proud to have been a part of the college and university foodservice industry for more than 30 years.

She, and lots of others like her, along with their operations, are rightfully recognized by their peers for the excellent and innovative work they do.

It would be nice if now and then a nod of recognition came from beyond the peer group, and the excellent work being done in college and university food service were celebrated outside the industry itself. Why is it that we almost never see higher education operations on the Food Network, the Travel Channel, or anywhere else on TV?

The networks feature chefs who do great things in their field, but seldom serve more than a few hundred meals a night. They should try doing what you do — serve thousands of meals a day, every day, to the exact same customers for three or four months at a time.

At the recent “Best Campus Food” event at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass), we had the opportunity to sample dishes prepared by five of The Princeton Review's 2012 top 10 college foodservice operations.

Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises at UMass, who organized the first-of-its-kind event, commented that the food rivaled that at some of the best restaurants he's ever visited. Indeed, we discovered when we tasted it, it did — though prepared for a fraction of the budget a “fine dining” restaurant would have.

Like the other morning TV shows, “Good Morning America” gave the slightest hint of a nod to the top campus food operations last fall ... by interviewing the editor of The Princeton Review. The show regularly shows chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali and Wolfgang Puck preparing special dishes. Why not Patrick Cassata or John Scherer or Bryan Jackson, or some of the other “Best Campus Food” chefs? Now that would be a nod of recognition!

Speaking of recognition — we are proud to announce the second annual NACAS On-Campus Hospitality College Foodservice Excellence Award. Nominate your most deserving candidate, and join us in recognizing and honoring the best and brightest in the higher education foodservice world.