At College Chefs, once the last meal of the school year is cooked, the Chefs are busy deep cleaning and putting away the equipment for the summer. While some of the Chefs hang up their aprons for the break and some well deserved time off, others seek out cooking adventures at resorts and summer camps
This is also the time when College Chefs’ Management Team gets started with planning the next school year. As part of that preparation, College Chefs hosts two “training weeks” during the Summer. The first of the two was back in May and the second will take place this coming July.
Training Week is a time where all members of the Management Team gather from across the country to company headquarters in Champaign, IL. The agenda for the week includes a combination of “fun classroom stuff” surrounded by team bonding activities and team building exercises.
, the College Chefs Special Events Coordinator says, “Training Week is beneficial because I get the opportunity to get to know the co-workers I typically only communicate with over the phone and email during the school year, as most of our Management Team members live in other states.”
During Training Week, the team shares ideas and gets ready for the upcoming school year...but also everyone gets to have some fun.
According to HR Coordinator Veronica Sanchez, “It’s time to reflect on the year and time to unwind. It's also a time to strengthen and reinforce our company culture within ourselves as a team.”
For the second year in a row, the team had a blast with the help of a few local businesses. The activities included an escape room (Brainstorm Escapes
), Saltfork Paintball
, a group lesson & golf at Legends Golf Course
, nice & relaxing casual dinners at several restaurants, and bowling at Old Orchard Lanes
(and their ridiculously good pizza).
Director of Operations, Chef Jared Bost
, comments, “We obviously want our customers to love us, and the chances of that are really high when we have employees who are valued and truly love the company. Our Management team is the face of College Chefs around the country, so it all starts with us as we are the direct link to our customers and employees. It's super important that this team gets better and better everyday so that we can continue to lift up and propel the entire company to new heights. Training Week is designed to facilitate that hunger for continuous improvement that is part of our DNA as a chef driven company.”
Following the first Training Week, most of the Operations Team goes into what Assistant Director of Operations, Chef Scott Bachman
calls “hibernation mode”.
“Most of the Operations Crew is running close to full throttle all school year. Unlike our Chefs in houses, they don't get the benefit of extended downtime during the academic year. When our house staff are kicking their feet up for a few weeks over Winter Break, for example, the Management Team is hard at work getting ready for the next semester,” Bachman says.
“It's extremely important that when the school year ends this team gets some much deserved vacation. We block off at least 4 weeks of allowing them to “go dark”. Then they all come back refreshed for Training Week Round 2, which is actually a lot of fun, and we're ready for the next year.” Bachman continues.
Chefs Jessica Dahlgren and Ian McKinstry are the most recent addition to the Management Team. Dahlgren hails from Lincoln, Nebraska, and McKinstry is out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
According to McKinstry, “I've been a Head Chef with College Chefs for over three years now at a large sorority [at the University of Oklahoma]. Towards the end of last semester, my Sous Chef Jonathan was promoted to Head Chef. I was asked to join on the Management Team and step into a Training role. As part of that I travel around the country, often at a moments notice, training Chefs and plugging holes wherever help is needed. It was enlightening to partake [in this most recent Training Week] and not knowing what to expect my first time around, it was a lot of fun and and I learned a ton. I see why the team actually looks forward to Training Week.”
Although this year was McKinstry’s first time at Training Week, Dahlgren was in attendance last summer as a special guest. Dahlgren reflects, “This year was even more fun than last year which was also a great time. It's nice to get out and hang out with the team for an extended period….It’s a very active week but relaxing at the same time. Most everyone on the team is a Chef so it’s obviously nice to get to be around fellow foodies.”
Going into the coming academic year, College Chefs may be adding a few new players to the Management Team. Like Dahlgren last summer, a few House Chefs were included in the first Training Week as special guests. Those special guests included Chefs Mike Sanda
(Rhode Island), Lisa Morgan (Kentucky), and Orion Shelton
GM of Business Operations, Dave Tarrant concludes, “With tremendous growth as a company since basically it's inception, and being located in now over 35 states, it's important that we continue to seek out and groom our next class of management. That way we're ready when a national fraternity or sorority calls us wanting us to take on a huge book of new business...which does happen. We've made obvious investments on the admin side of the business but the most important thing is to continue to invest in and to grow our people. That's what will keep our winning culture stronger than ever.”