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.”