Happy 30th Birthday, Bon Appétit: My Crazy Family
My first “real” day with Bon Appétit was in 1989. I was a student at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, CA. Scott Bauccio, Fedele’s son and Michael’s nephew, was (and still is) one of my dearest friends. He told his group of friends about how we could make some extra cash by working an off-site event for his dad’s company…we were on board! How hard could it be?
It was the company picnic for an early corporate account. We were each given a station to “manage” and spent the day literally running around in golf carts schlepping food from one end of campus to the next. I thought to myself that day, I’ve never worked so hard in my life. Well, I caught the catering bug. The sense of teamwork, the look on customers’ faces as they ate our fabulous food, and the endless energy it took to pull this thing off — I loved it.
We graduated from St. Mary’s, and I went to work for the Ritz Carlton hotel company in Southern California. Scott was working for Bon Appétit at Biola University, and we both wanted to get back to the Bay Area. He recommended that I talk to a “Mr. Cary Wheeland” about catering. I met Cary and he gave me the job description, $10K a year for 60 hours a week. I was in! (I’m kidding… sort of!)
I loved every minute of those 60-plus hours a week. We catered hundreds of weddings and fed thousands of meals to the students at a Northern California university. I knew I had found my dream job…and I still feel that way today.
“I knew I had found my dream job…and I still feel that way today.”
I stayed there for about eight years and then left Bon Appétit to open a restaurant in San Francisco for a friend of mine. On opening night, a bouquet of roses arrived with a note from Bon Appétit that said, “You will be back.” I lasted less than 45 days.
A position was available at Stanford University as director of catering. I interviewed and got the job. I remember then–Director of Retail Operations Dick Calbow asking me to join him on the loading dock. He said to me, “Kid, you just made the worst decision of your life” — with a wink. I think of Dick and the team at Stanford (including Dannie Stanton, now director of catering at University of San Francisco, and Michael Brinkmann, now executive chef at Santa Clara University). I think of all of the hard work these people have done for us over the years, and I’m proud to say I’m part of such an amazing tenured team.
When people hear how long I’ve been with the company, they’re always so surprised. I can’t imagine any place I would rather be. It’s home, and my “family” is crazy and perfect.