Positive energy, change, and consistency in store for PC’s dining hall
By Josie Clemens
Presentation College’s cafeteria has been the subject of countless conversations on campus, and recently, Aramark has hired Melanie Hogg as the food service director for Presentation College.
Hogg has worked in food service for 28 years. Her career began in Oregon, where she owned a restaurant for 10 years. Later, she moved to Maui, general managing a restaurant and lodge for five years. Eventually, she travelled to South Dakota, where she owned another restaurant for nine more years.
Currently residing in Aberdeen with her family, Hogg worked in consulting during this past year until Aramark offered her the position at Presentation College. Though she has extensive experience in the food service industry, Hogg has never worked in this position for a college. Nevertheless, that did not deter her from accepting the opportunity with an open mind and positive attitude.
“I am always one that likes to challenge myself and try new things, and institutional food, this kind of production, I have never done. I just wanted to try something and learn, and Aramark gave me an opportunity, so I decided to take it,” Hogg explained.
The understanding of volume food service or “batch cooking” – cooking for a large sum of people in a short time frame – remains a new practice for Hogg. However, her knowledge in the foundation of food service and general principles of that industry that she has accumulated through her many years of experience remains advantageous to her position as the food service director at PC.
“If you have been an operator or manager in food service, the concept is the foundation, and it is about cost controls on food, costing on your labor, all the procedures of scheduling and maintenance… The ground work is already there,” Hogg said.
Because Hogg has the framework for food service, she has already begun creating goals for herself and methods to improve the dining experience for the students. Her first step begins with building her team. Short-staffed, Hogg recently hired three new members. The focus remains in training the new employees and forming a sense of comradery and trust between all members of the staff and herself. This will generate a positive working environment that will better serve the students.
The next important step for Hogg is building a rapport with the students. To reach this goal, she plans on meeting people in the dining hall and having conversations with them to get to know them personally. Through these conversations, Hogg also seeks student opinions regarding the meals offered, which will help her find ways to improve the quality of service to better the experience for the students in the future.
Hogg emphasizes two methods that students can use to reach out and voice their suggestions and concerns. Right now, she focuses on the verbal feedback through her conversations, but Hogg also wants students to be aware of the online “Got a Minute” survey that they can fill out at yourdiningvoice.com. Through this site, people can give ratings and offer suggestions on how to advance the quality of the meals and the staff’s service.
Organization of the food service offered on campus is another major area that Hogg wants to improve in the dining hall this year. Eliminating the unknown and building a sense of calm are key to making sure everything remains seamless and organized. Hogg is determined to leave a lasting impression and make significant changes here at Presentation College that will allow students to feel like they are at home.
“I want this to be a great dining experience for our students every single day and every single meal,” Hogg claims.Working in a new setting can be difficult, but Hogg works day by day to tackle each issue with an open mind, making sure the service she and her staff provides runs smoothly and consistently. Setting weekly goals allows her to focus on key areas to refine, and Hogg strives to challenge herself and to learn from past mistakes. She welcomes comments and views any input from staff and students – even criticism – as a learning tool.
“You cannot do better if you do not know better.”