Campus Executive Chef Bill Griffin, Jr. for Bon Appetit, manages five dining sites on the Homewood campus plus the catering department.
1. What is a typical day like for you?
I start around 6:30 a.m., checking on the catering staff if there’s an event. Then I go to the Fresh Food Café (FFC) and Levering to check on my staff there. Today, I went to the Glass Pavilion and helped to plate up for a function for 170 people.Every day, though, I get to help our staff, whether it’s showing someone how to roll out a pizza dough or set the salad bar up or how to make rice properly. I might get to my emails around 4 p.m. before I check on dinner at Nolan’s and FFC. If everybody feels good about the night, then it’s time to call it a day.
2. What’s the most popular food on campus?
The most popular food item bar none is chicken tenders. Our most popular
food station on campus is One Bowl over at Levering. It stays busy; there’s
always a line for that.
3. How do you deal with all the different dietary restrictions?
When I went to college, if you were vegetarian, you ate the vegetables and the starches. You didn’t have vegetarian entrees. Here, we run the gamut, and it’s just a normal part of our day.
We have our own kosher department and dining facility in FFC. And FFC is also a peanut-free café. We have vegan and vegetarian entrees at Nolan’s, and we accommodate with gluten-free products, as well as cook separately for students in a gluten-free area of Nolan’s kitchen. We work closely with a lot of students and their parents going over what’s on the menus and how to go about navigating the cafés. It’s important to us.
4. Do you create all the recipes for campus?
At Bon Appetit, we’re not recipe-driven. If I put “Mom’s turkey meatloaf” on the menu, I’ll ask my chefs if they’ve made meatloaf before. If not, I’ll give them my recipe. If they have their own recipe, I’ll ask what’s in it, and say OK. That gives them the ability to use their own creativity in making the dish. Even when students say, “Hey, my mom put mushrooms in my meatloaf.” I’ll say, “If that’s how you like it, let’s try it. Bring your mom’s recipe in, and we’ll try it.”
5. What are your tools of the trade?
I’ve got a pen, a cut glove, my computer, my chef’s knives, and a thermometer. I’m constantly taking temperatures. We want to make sure cold is cold and hot is hot. I’m constantly writing down improvements we need to make, making sure that people are working safely, getting proper instruction and leadership, and staying positive and motivated.