Why did you decide to become a CDM?
I have been a CDM since 2010 and involved in ANFP since 2000. I decided to become a CDM because people inspired me to be better. I have been blessed to work with amazing people who have influenced and inspired me to do more and become something better in the foodservice industry. I have been in foodservice for more than 32 years, in management for more than 20 years, and I wanted more. I wanted to create, lead, and mentor just as I have been, and I hoped to pay it forward to others who are new or are learning the foodservice industry. I also wanted to show that being in management can truly be “FUN” and not just a job.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
That’s where we, “not I,” put our new and learning caps on at PES and created some very unique fun in our cafeteria. I would brainstorm ideas and express or share them with staff and then we would move forward. It took planning, from marketing to invites, communication to special menu’s, special guests to music, from decorations to setup and take down, while it incorporated the whole PES campus we “all” made it happen!
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
To make things happen in my day, I organize by prioritizing and every morning I make a “to do list”. As all of us know in the food industry, “things” happen each and everyday that or NOT on our “to do lists” so we adjust and still accomplish our responsibilities by using the resources, time management and multitasking.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
My first job in the food industry was at the Hollywood Ranch House in Hollywood, MN. I was 13 years old, I made $3.56 per hour (I still have the pay stub) and on my break, I got to sit and play pool with the locals. I remember like it was yesterday, how one night we were so busy, and I was supposed to help catch up on dishes. I scraped and rinsed the dishes, shoved a HUGE load into a one spring-loaded door dishwasher, shut it, and pressed start. I left to go clear more tables, came back with a bus tub full of dishes to an overflowing dish machine and a slight flood on the floor. My boss Bruce looked at me and with a slight grin on his face, and said “well,] Tracy, what do you think went wrong with the dish machine?” He opened the door and a few dishes fell to the floor. He smiled and said, “you’ll never do that, again will you?” I said, “no sir.”
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
There are many challenges we face in the food industry. I tell my staff if we do not have sanitation in our kitchen we have nothing. We strive for excellence in our kitchen and I wish everyone could work one day of food service on a challenging day, because people often have no idea what goes on behind the scenes.
One of my biggest challenges I faced in my position was getting our school staff to eat with us, so I created a special three-day menu with two or three different options per day. The online order form allowed them to preorder for the following week, with that I would prepare daily, so everything was fresh daily, all they had to do was stop by, grab and go, unless it needed garnish or the fixings. The online ordering system allowed me to have consistent zero to very minimal waste. This created a fast and friendly environment for staff to eat something healthy, fresh and affordable. While increasing sales with this we also increased our goal of great customer service, waste management and learning you must be creative with something new to bring in new customers.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
I keep up to date with trends and innovations by attending the ANFP and SNA conferences, Edge magazine, networking and communication with colleagues. I am grateful for the people who have helped me along the way and taught me that a good challenge can only make you better.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
My advice for those just getting started in the foodservice industry would have to be: Foodservice is a profession that has many different paths and options including healthcare, schools, restaurants, cruise ships, jails, army base, food artistry, photography, and more. Jump on board - you may just love what you are getting yourself into. Best of luck to those jumping on board!