Why did you decide to become a CDM?
I wanted to be able to support my team by gaining insight to proper cooking techniques as well as food safety and sanitation. Growing with your profession is vital, and I felt like becoming a CDM and being part of a professional group, like ANFP, was key to maintaining that growth. I take pride in the work that I do and take it very seriously. Having a CDM credential supports that.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
As the NS supervisor, I am responsible for providing direction and supervision for 20 food service employees which includes cooks, dietary aids and dietitians. I provide accountability for food service provided during our hours of operation. I coordinate food procurement, special activities, schedules, and problem solving. I make independent decisions concerning emergency situations. I also maintain the productivity statistics for the department, code invoices and sign off on staff pay roll. In addition, I maintain the department’s internal catering events, including menus, invoices and food prep and presentation.
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
I have a very organized and detail-oriented personality, so this comes easily for me. If someone relies on my work to complete theirs, I get those tasks done first. I prioritize the rest of my tasks, making sure the most important things are completed in a timely manner.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
A significant change I assisted with was transitioning our foodservice from tray line style to room service. During this transition I created new job positions and descriptions to go along with them. I also assisted with creating the menu that the patients would use to order their food. We went from a five-week cycle of menus to one restaurant style menu. We also had to change the layout of our kitchen. We purchased new equipment such as new ovens, a flat-top griddle, a char broiler and fryers. I provided support with this by moving equipment and organizing areas of the kitchen to have a cohesive flow for our new service.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
Growing up, my dad was a manager for hotel restaurants. I would help bus tables on the weekends. As I grew older, I got an official job as a waitress at a small restaurant in Sanborn, IA called Jay’s.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
My biggest mentor would be the director of my department, Patty Manwarren. She has many years of food service experience and has provided me so much support in my position. For example, she assisted me with enrolling in the CDM course through the University of North Dakota. During that time, she helped me with my course work and assignments by becoming one of my preceptors. She has also taught me a lot about dealing with difficult situations and employees. This was something very new to me when I became a supervisor. By working with her every day I grew my confidence in my leadership role. Not only is she supportive professionally, she is supportive personally. I feel like she genuinely cares about me and wants to help me be the best employee I can be.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced in my position was being promoted internally to a supervisor position. I had to be confident in my new role, but also be humble as I was now supervising my peers. I also had to set new boundaries with employees as now I would be leading them. I had to be sensitive to the fact that some employees were resentful of my new promotion and handle that on an individual basis. After becoming a supervisor, I think I gained the respect of my team by leading by example. I don’t expect anything out of the nutrition employees that I am not willing to or already doing myself.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is working on catering events. I am passionate about making high quality food and presenting it in a way that really “wows” my customers. I get the freedom to be creative and express how much I care about my work through the food presentation.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
Having my CDM has helped me stay current by offering continuing education articles and webinars. I also enjoy reading the Nutrition and Food Service Edge magazine. I am also fortunate enough to have an employer that supports my department by allowing us to attend food shows in the surrounding area. And last, I like to use social media to keep in touch with new trends and creative ideas. Even just looking at food pictures can spark a new recipe or idea.
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and foodservice?
I think technology will continue to impact the foodservice industry. It’s appealing to today’s society to shop and receive goods without leaving the comfort of their own home.
Another trend that is growing right now is waste reduction. I can see the industry creating new and innovative ideas on how to utilize their food waste.
As far as the healthcare foodservice industry, I think customer satisfaction and using more liberal diets will continue to grow. With a liberalized diet approach, healthcare can focus on more variety of food choices to ensure patients and customers are satisfied with every meal.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
Embrace change! The foodservice industry is growing and changing by the minute. It will continue to grow and develop, and if you don’t stay up to date with the latest trends it will be difficult to stay current and move forward in this industry. With that, have fun! Foodservice is a great area to work in. It allows you to have fun at work and use your creative talents. Every day is different so the tasks are not mundane and repetitive.