University of San Francisco Director of Catering Dannie Stanton is quick to smile. Strolling across the bustling floor of the Market Café, clad in a vibrant button-down shirt and dashing newsboy hat, he exudes a sense of stylish calm and good cheer. Considering that he’s responsible for overseeing between 15 to 30 events per day at this high-volume Bon Appétit location, his easy demeanor is remarkable.
With 24 years of experience at Bon Appétit, Dannie is no stranger to the art of catering with style and efficiency — a skill set that he’s learned on the job. In 1992, Dannie started at Stanford University as a busboy, just as Bon Appétit was coming onto campus. His father’s career as a cook had inspired Dannie, so he decided to get his foot in the door. He kept his eyes open for opportunities to learn on the job. On one particularly busy day, long lines were forming at the cash registers, so Dannie jumped in to help. “My boss said, ‘I didn’t know you knew how to work the register,’ and I said, ‘I mean, it’s not rocket science, man,’” laughs Dannie. Impressed by Dannie’s initiative, his boss quickly promoted him to cashier, and then, within the year, to supervisor.
While Dannie enjoyed interacting with customers, he still wanted something a little bit more challenging. Dannie asked his boss if he could work in catering once or twice a week in addition to his regular duties. Thanks to this firsthand experience, when Dannie saw a job posting for a catering manager position, he got it. “My first catering director was Carrie Buckley [now Bon Appétit’s vice president of image and style],”he says with a smile.“She took me under her wing. I learned a lot from her, and I just enjoyed the work.”
Dannie also got the opportunity to meet CEO Fedele Bauccio, whose leadership style influenced him early and has been part of the reason he’s stayed at Bon Appétit so long.“Fedele is very passionate about the company, and he cares about the employees,” he says.“It’s a family company.”
“He was always inquisitive, and he worked so hard all the time,” says Fedele, recalling his first impressions of Dannie. Now, after 24 years, Fedele says, “Clients love him because he’s always got a smile on his face. He’s not afraid to dress up and look the part at the front of the house — his suits are amazing! — but he’s also not afraid to take the garbage out. He literally does it all.”
At USF, where he has been for four years, Dannie is happy to have the opportunity to mentor his staff, just as he was mentored early in his career.
“I’m building a team that’s passionate about what we do as a company,” he says. “I always tell people to be passionate at what you do, and you will get somewhere. Take pride into your work.”
When it comes to mentoring, Dannie leads by example. “You’ve got to be organized and efficient, and you have to have an eye for catering,” he says. “If you don’t have an eye for the details — making sure you have the right cocktail napkins, forks on the buffet, those little things — it affects the experience. It’s a big deal.”
Funnily enough, even when Dannie’s not at work, he spends his time bringing people together for events. “I’m the guy in the family that takes over the parties,” he says. “I like to be the host.”
Dannie says the values of Bon Appétit as a company, the passion of the people, and the creative freedom his job allows has kept him doing what he loves for 24 years. Here’s hoping we have his talents for 24 more!