By Guest Blogger Colleen McKie, Senior Recruiter – Colleges and Universities in the Western US
This week is my favorite time of year for recruiting culinary professionals. I’ll be headed, once again, to the ACF National Convention to share what you can #CookCraftCreate as a Sodexo Chef!
In preparation for this event last year, I wrote about Sodexo’s relationship with the American Culinary Foundation and how the ACF provides guidance to our chef mentoring program and recognizes our career advancement webinars with credits towards recertification.
|"Serving others first is a natural|
instinct in all great leaders" -
Cynthia Walz, CEC
This year I located a “voice” from one of our female Executive Chefs to share with you her thoughts on the career opportunities and challenges at Sodexo. Cynthia Walz is from my home state of Michigan and was just hired as a new General Manager at one of our Campus accounts in Colorado. Here is what she had to say!
What brought you to Sodexo?
Coming from a restaurant background, I was recruited by Sodexo for an Executive Chef role in 2008. I became interested in the opportunity to lead a culinary team, implement changes and raise the bar for the client and for Sodexo.
The account needed some fresh eyes from a person with high-end catering and restaurant experience while the food team was in need of some encouragement, inspiration and training. I focused on food quality, setting up local purveyors and improving our food costs to start, while operating a zero waste kitchen policy. It took a lot of hard work and long hours but most anyone who truly wants to make a difference through food and people knows what it takes.
As an entrepreneur, I was skeptical about moving to corporate food service company. But because of Sodexo’s large scope and innovative initiatives, this company has provided me so many opportunities to grow develop and contribute. Their commitment to health and wellness, work/life balance, recognition and recruitment of top talent are the reasons why Sodexo remains my employer of choice.
How has Sodexo assisted you in your professional development and/or rewarded you for your accomplishments?
Everyone is responsible for their own career growth at Sodexo, but with the encouragement and resources offered, you can achieve more than you think you can. Sodexo supports and funds my yearly ACF membership fees and has invested in a lot of training and travel for me.
In six short years with Sodexo, I have become a Certified Executive Chef with the ACF and will finish up the required testing for Certified Culinary Administrator by end of this year. I am also trained in allergens and intolerance in a cafeteria and dining room setting and leverage the support of Sodexo’s Registered Dietitians to help our meals meet nutritional needs.
A few years back, Sodexo sent me to Catersource in Las Vegas where I entered and won two different contests; one for a grab-and-go box lunch featuring a wellness selection and an one-plate, easy-to-serve lunch item. Sodexo recognized my win by featuring me in a catering training segment of the summer training symposium - a very proud moment for me!
What are you most passionate about?
Mentorship and helping others achieve their goals. I have mentored three cooks into executive chef roles, two while at Sodexo, and enjoy working with chefs in Sodexo’s Spirit of Mentoring program as an advisor for certification.
My second passion is sustainability. My goal to work with more sustainable and waste elimination solutions has led me to accept a new role as the General Manager at Fort Lewis College in Colorado. Fort Lewis is leading the pack with a top-notch composting program and a LEED Gold-certified student union.
What advice would you give to a chef considering a culinary career with Sodexo?
If you are considering a career change that offers more work/life balance, opportunity for creativity, sustainability or mentoring, consider Sodexo!
This is your opportunity to go anywhere you want to go and do anything you want to do, with the support and resources that are second to none. Being a chef for Sodexo gives you the ability to positively affect not just a team of people, but the quality of life for clients, students, faculty, patients and residents.
If you will be attending the National ACF Convention in Orlando this week, please stop by the Sodexo Booth, 414. You can meet other award-winning Sodexo chefs like Cynthia and talk with me about what opportunities we bring to the plate!