Bon Appétit Management Company promoted three staff members to leadership positions this semester at Hillsdale College.
The food service company promoted Josh Weber and Christian Willoughby to sous chefs and hired Patrick Kandor from its catering arm to be its new executive chef. All three bring broad experience in the culinary industry to the mouths of students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the Knorr Family Dining Room.
Kandor said serving a college campus can be a challenge with the quantity of food needed but that he hopes the patrons enjoy their food.
“You’re not going to be eating Beef Wellington anytime soon, but you are going to eat a darn good beef stew,” he said.
Under the leadership of the executive chef, the two sous chefs make up meal ideas into a reality by coordinating the efforts of about 60 staff employees between the day and night shifts, Willoughby said.
Previously, Kandor worked with Bon Appétit General Manager David Apthorpe in Cleveland, Ohio. Before that, Kandor owned a catering business.
“It was a lot of fun and also a lot of work,” Kandor said. “But I was paying a fortune for medical benefits, when the Affordable Care Act requirements kicked in. After that, it wasn’t worth it.”
Kandor came to campus originally as a catering chef, when the Searle Center opened in August 2015.
Weber has worked off and on for Bon Appétit and other food service companies for the past two decades. He relocated from Minnesota in October.
Willoughby was working at the Criss Cole School for the Blind, a rehabilitation center in Austin, Texas. There, she taught legally blind adults how to function and cook in the kitchen.
But Willoughby was familiar with Hillsdale before working for the college.
“My family is originally from here,” Willoughby said. “When I was a small boy my grandmother and her sisters used to live in Hillsdale. Her house was right down on Union Street.”
In addition to making food, the chefs said they also like interacting with students and are planning to hold homemade pizza cooking lessons this semester, similar to ones they led last year.
“We start with the basics because if you can’t make the basics, then there’s no sense in learning how to make a soufflé,” Kandor said.
They will offer a two-session class in February and a second in March. Each will be open to around 20 students, the maximum number of people who can fit in the kitchen at once. Sign ups will appear in the Student Activities Newsletter.
In the kitchen, the three chefs work with staff in menu meetings twice a week to brainstorm meals.
“We are trying to improve upon what has already been established and try some new stuff while still sticking with the meat and potatoes ideas, as well,” Kandor said.
Students can help the chefs by giving thoughtful feedback on the food, Kandor said.
“Feedback is essential to our performance, because it lets us know where we stand,” he said. “We also ask that you give us a little more patience, as we get our feet underneath us.”