Bon Appétit Team Wins Cornell College’s Purple Rock Award

Men in masks holding award

Executive Chef David Smigo and General Manager James Richards with their Purple Rock Award from Cornell College

James Richards, Bon Appétit’s general manager at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, received a very nice surprise during a recent all-campus video meeting. He was presented with Cornell’s Purple Rock Award, to share with the Bon Appétit team!

Student Health Services Director Nancy Reasland read her remarks out loud:

The Purple Rock Award has never gone to anyone more deserving than this block’s recipient. When this person arrived on campus four years ago, every single one of us almost immediately felt the positive impact of their presence. Few other people have had as much to do with shaping campus culture as this one person. In fact, this individual has affected not only Cornell, but all of Eastern Iowa with productive business relationships and very happy customers. You will never meet a person who more readily says, “Yes, I can make it work!” or “I’m standing at the ready to do whatever you need!”

This customer-service- minded individual has been known to greet students and employees in their native Swahili, or staff and faculty with a friendly “Hello, Sir!” or “Hello, Madame!” “How are you doing today?” In this difficult time of social distancing, extra cleaning, and food prep challenges, not to mention food serving challenges, he has gone above and beyond to make students feel loved and appreciated, even packing special gift bags when they come to pick up their meals.

Even though you will always see him with a smile, this has been an agonizing two months…Nothing about his job has been easy recently, yet he shows up day after day with a positive attitude and makes the day better for every one of us who makes the trek to Zamora’s. It is with gratitude and delight that I present The Purple Rock Award to James Richards, and by proxy to all of his staff, for their work in lifting our spirits, demonstrating what true grit looks like, and feeding our stomachs, hearts, and souls in the middle of a pandemic. Thank you, James!

“It was awesome,” confesses James. “Very humbling, and a boost that couldn’t have come at a better time!”