What’s it like behind the scenes at the KC
Every day, Olivet college students and staff pour into the Kirk Center (KC) to satisfy their hunger. The KC provides a variety of options whether it be soul food or Chinese. When asked about the food provided, sophomore Kyle Wendt said, “The food at the KC is great compared to the other dining halls I have been to at universities; the KC is so much better.”
Although the food gets all the attention, it’s the kitchen staff who barely get recognized. Day in and day out the staff at the Kirk Center make it their duty to make sure the students at Olivet are well fed and comfortable by the time they leave.
Freshman Kyle Buchan was asked if he knew anyone who works at the KC. “Not a single person,” he said. Three times a day, students go into the KC, eat the food and walk out, not knowing the people who put hard work into making the meals.
To see what it's like in the Kirk Center Kitchen, General Manager of Chartwells Dining Services Katie Vanderstraaten was asked about the ins and outs of the KC. Vanderstraaten has been working for Olivet College for one year and is the main overseer of the kitchen operation.
To have a successful kitchen, she trusts her head chefs, Rich and Zach who, according to Vanderstraaten, “handle the menu planning, food ordering, execution of the menu, inventory, catering and a lot more!”
“The chef's main responsibilities are reviewing and renewing recipes every week.” On top of that, the chefs review stock that’s freshly delivered three times a week.
With 750-800 meals served a day, Vanderstraaten relies heavily on her kitchen staff to make sure every student is fed. A typical dining time consists of eight to 12 people preparing and cooking food constantly. “Cooks will come in for their shift and start by reviewing their menu and recipes. Each recipe has a ‘yield’, so they know how much to produce. They will then gather all of their recipe ingredients and start prepping for the meal,” said Vanderstraaten. “Once the meal starts, our cooks will continue to cook menu items in batches so that we can provide quality food items during the entire meal period.”
After the shift, Vanderstraaten has the staff log in the food left over into something she calls the “waste not” chart on Chartwells, which shows them how many meals are left over, as it gives them a good idea of how popular the meals are so they can dictate if they will serve it more often or less.
At the end of the day, whether it be slicing meat or baking pizzas, the kitchen staff at Olivet College work as a tag team to make sure that the students are fed.