The start of the school year is always a busy time for Bon Appétiters who serve college campuses. With new students learning to navigate dining on campus and returning students adjusting to the cadence of their schedules, it can feel like a whirlwind for everybody.
That’s why some forward-thinking Bon Appetit leaders at Emory University’s Atlanta campus decided to spend the summer in a new way: Launching a first-of-its-kind training for employees covering important elements of Emory Dining’s sprawling operation.
The brainchild of Bon Appétit District Manager Kellie Piper, Resident District Manager Michelle Reuter, Sustainability Manager Julie Mulisano, and Marketing Manager Allison Vanderburg, among others, the trainings were made up of six separate units, each of which took up one week. Both back- and front-of-house topics were covered; everything from food safety to equipment safety to mother sauces, and an entire week dedicated solely to mastering the art and science of creating composed salads. Between practicing Safety Management By Walking Around (SMBWAs) and crafting decadent béchamel, the 30 employees who participated also spent an entire week focusing on sustainability.
Led by Sustainability Manager Julie Mulisano, the week-long sustainability training included instruction about both Bon Appétit and Emory-specific sustainability initiatives. The employees re-took Bon Appétit’s Circle of Responsibility training together (which managers must recertify annually), learned about Emory’s recycling and composting waste stream, and did some deep dives into the philosophy that undergirds the work they do each day. In one exercise, Julie and Allison traced the lifecycle of a locally grown tomato from procurement to preparation in one of Emory’s kitchens to when parts of it eventually entered the waste stream. The highlight of the sustainability training was when Bill Green, Executive Director of Common Market Southeast, a local food aggregator and Farm to Fork vendor, came to speak about Common Market’s mission and a recent grant the organization received to support female Black farmers in the area.
The trainings proved to be special to employees and managers alike, allowing people that typically focus on one job to increase their cross-functional knowledge across the entire operation, while also putting them in touch with the broader mission of their daily work. “The trainings allowed us to do place-setting for staff,” says Julie. “They often spend so much time in the kitchen, we don’t always have the chance to dig into the ‘why’ of things.”
Due to the success of this summer’s trainings, the Bon Appétit team and their client at Emory are working on making the program recurring, allowing its impact to spread to next summer and beyond.