David Apthrope is set to retire this semester after more than five years of service to the college.
Andrew Dixon | Collegian

After five and a half years as Bon Appetit’s general manager, David Apthorpe will retire at the end of the spring semester. 

While unsure of his future plans, Apthorpe said he hopes to find a job more con­ducive to family life than the seven days a week of meal prepa­ration for which he is cur­rently respon­sible.  He will be replaced by Benito Suero.

“My desire to find some­thing new revolves around the need to spend more time with my family,” Apthorpe said. “I have two ele­mentary-aged children and I want to make sure that I’m a big part of their lives.” 

Apthorpe first arrived at Hillsdale in Feb­ruary of 2015. Under his lead­ership, the dining hall and food ser­vices have improved greatly according to Sous Chef Christian Willoughby. He pio­neered the grab-and-go system in Kendall Hall and expanded dining options for stu­dents with allergies. Apthorpe also com­mitted to pur­chasing 20% of the kitchen’s produce from local farms.

“David has really brought a lot of changes,” said Willoughby, who began working at the college six months before Bon Appetit and Apthorpe took over. “He was a chef before he was a general manager and brought a lot of really won­derful culinary ideas with him.”

Apthorpe began his culinary career in Austin, Texas, where he served as exec­utive chef at a popular French restaurant, Bistro Mirabelle. He has since worked at several acclaimed restau­rants in Cleveland, Ohio, and he still uses this culinary expertise to work alongside the Hillsdale kitchen staff when the need arises. 

“David helped us with a lot of inter­na­tional food at Passport, both Asian and Indian — stuff which we had not been doing in my first six months here,” Willoughby said. “He has a knack for cre­ating really won­derful things with simple ingre­dients. He’ll even go out of his way to visit special Asian markets to get ingre­dients for meals that we can’t get through our vendors.” 

Apthrope said he agrees that one of his biggest accom­plish­ments at Hillsdale has been revi­tal­izing Passport. 

“We turned Passport into a really live-action station from just being a service station,” Apthorpe said. “We really wanted to bring the cooking out in front of the guests, and I think we were able to do that pretty successfully.”

Prior to coming to Hillsdale, Apthorpe worked with Bon Appetit for seven years at Case Western Reserve Uni­versity in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Apthorpe said his time at Hillsdale has been quite dif­ferent from his past culinary expe­ri­ences because of the huge role that catering plays at the college. 

“Catering is crit­i­cally important because of the uniqueness of Hillsdale’s donor-driven pro­grams,” Apthorpe said. “We see that as crit­i­cally important to the mission of the college. The hos­pi­tality pro­vided to them needs to be con­sistent with people’s expectations.” 

Apthorpe said he embraced this chal­lenge and made some of his favorite mem­ories while working to cater large events. 

“My favorite memory was exe­cuting the 175th Gala in 2019,” Apthorpe said. “That was a massive under­taking that took coor­di­nation between res­i­dential dining staff and catering dining staff. It was really a complex logis­tical challenge.” 

According to Sous Chef Daniel Fuentes, the gala was a tes­tament to Apthrope’s lead­ership and cama­raderie with the whole Bon Appetit staff.

“That was one of my favorite times I had with him,” Fuentes said. “I got to see him as an active general manager and as an active culi­narian. He made sure every­thing ran smoothly at the gala while doing his regular duties at the college as well.” 

After all that he has accom­plished over the past five-and-a-half years, Apthorpe’s col­leagues say he will be sorely missed at Hillsdale. 

“I’m sad to see him leave, but excited for his future endeavors,” Fuentes said. “We all have to go onto bigger and better things, espe­cially in our industry.”