Make the most of your dining experience at St. Olaf and gain a few insider tips by reading our Q&A with Bon Appetit Board Manager Randy Clay.
Give us a bit of background on how long you’ve worked in food service, at St. Olaf etc. Why food, and why sustainable food?
I’ve worked in food service since I was in college. I’ve been in my current role as Board Manager since 2007. I liked waiting tables and just stuck with it. I have had the opportunity to work in the mountains of Colorado and the Florida Keys. It is a career that can take you anywhere you want to go. I live in Northfield now and have found the best job and best company right here. I will likely never find another company that cares as much about serving healthy, sustainable food as Bon Appetit. I can’t see myself working for another company.
You’ve undoubtedly seen some pretty unique “cafeteria creations” over the years. What are some of your favorites?
With the addition of the Panini grills I have seen some pretty tasty sandwiches. I can’t think of any favorites, but I am always glad to see students getting creative with their plates.
Can you explain the role of comment cards on the bulletin board leaving Stav Hall? What purpose do they serve for you and your staff, and how can we as students best express our needs on those cards? Is there any other way we can be in contact with you?
The comment cards are very useful to us. We genuinely want and need your feedback. My advice is to keep the comments civil and related to food in the dining hall. The occasional funny card is all right, but some useless or rude comments are a waste of paper. Our guests can also address their comments or concerns to email@example.com
New students may not understand the wealth of options available to those with specialized diets. Can you explain what some of these options are and how students can go about requesting specialized meals i.e. gluten-free bag lunches?
Students with special dietary needs are encouraged to contact us directly. We cannot help someone unless they come forward to let us know they need help. We are always more than willing to take care of all students.
Can you talk about some of the “special services” Bon Appetit offers beyond Stav Hall and the Cage?
We offer a variety of pack-out options for groups who need to miss a meal in the dining hall. All requests are handled by our Catering Department, which can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Catering and Main Offices are located on the second floor of Buntrock Commons behind the Cage.
Can you clarify when certain foods are served? Are there particular days or times of the year when certain fruits, breakfast foods, cereals, desserts etc. appear?
Actually, we try not to have “cycle” menus. Yes, we have had similar menus on Sunday nights at the Bowls Station throughout the years: pot-stickers, egg rolls and/or wings for example. One comment that frequently comes up in the middle of winter is the request for more fresh fruit. We do the best we can, but we do not choose to purchase air-freighted produce, so our choices of fresh fruit in Minnesota in the winter are slim.
Are there any other hints you want students to know?
Don’t put any cookies, pita pieces or buttered breads in the toasters. This leads to fires and burnt messes that are difficult to clean. If a person comments that they are “bored” or “can’t find anything to eat” or “just eat the same thing all the time” these are actual comments I have heard, I say you aren’t trying very hard. There is a tremendous variety of food in our dining hall. More importantly, people tend to say they know what they like when in reality most of us only like what we know. Try something different. If you can’t pronounce what is on the menu or have never heard of it, that’s what you should get. It may just be the best thing you have ever had.
Jessica Moes ’14 email@example.com is an Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Messenger. She is from Hastings, Minn.