Your Future... So Sodexo

Read stories about real Sodexo people who help make a difference in the lives of people like you.

 

 

Quanta Robinson

Executive Chef
George Washington University Hospital

 

What do you like about working for Sodexo?

Sodexo was attractive to me because I had the possibility of having a life outside of work. With Sodexo I have weekends off, and a manageable schedule for holidays. Ten hours a day tops. That’s just unheard of in the restaurant world.

What would you say about your team and fellow cooks?

We come from very different backgrounds, so we have different skill levels and bring different experiences to the table. I came from a restaurant background. When I first got here, the atmosphere is very different from what I’m used to. They teach me things about this new environment. We just learn from each other and works out really well.

Can you tell us a project that you worked on?

I have definitely been able to implement some certain cooking techniques when it comes to things like different, especially grains. The cooks are actually eager to work with things like quinoa, faro, sprouted lentils, which they had never heard of, and which they were probably intimidated by at first. They tried and made it, and it came out delicious. We got rave reviews for those. A lot of people even request to work with that again.

Louis Gornick

Executive Chef
Nebraska Medical Center

 

How did your career at Sodexo start?

I grew up in the hospitality industry. I was always in the kitchen working with family and friends who owned restaurants. I progressed toward that industry and wound up graduating from the California Culinary Academy and then got my Bachelor’s degree at Iowa State in Hospitality Administration. When I was at Iowa State, a brand manager introduced me to Sodexo.

What do you like most about your job?

Sodexo has taken me out of the 80-hour work week schedule. The quality of life working with Sodexo and in healthcare has been phenomenal. It allowed me the freedom and the flexibility to develop menus for patients. Sodexo also provides us resources and trainings. There is a huge population that needs special diets. We work hand-in-hand with registered dietitians to find out the best products and talk to the patients to create something for them that’s not on the menu.

What would you say about working for Sodexo?

I really enjoy working with the people here, no matter if they are front line or management. I actually have more fun here than any other place that I’ve worked at.

Dwight E. Evans II

Executive Chef
Covenant Village of Northbrook

 

What led you to your current position at Sodexo?
After the closing of a popular eatery I helped open in Chicago, I was fortunate enough to land the Executive Chef position at Covenant Village of Northbrook. I felt it would be a different type of challenge to work in healthcare, taking after my grandfather, who spent over 30 years working in the kitchens at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Indiana.

Seven great years later and focusing on the future, I aspire to become a Culinary Director, Corporate Executive Chef, Research and Development or Regional Executive Chef and possibly go abroad as an employee of Sodexo.

What is your typical day like?
A typical day at CVON may consist of employee training and production meetings, menu development, meeting with the catering department to discuss upcoming events, meeting with our resident’s dining council, and working on marketing current and future events. I also manage the healthcare kitchen and plan and develop and design the CVON cooking show Fine Dining with Chef Evans.

What is the best part of working for Sodexo?
The professional development programs, work-life balance and promotion of ACF chefs programs and agendas are some of my favorites. I also appreciate the diversity programs and being a part of a worldwide company with the flexibility of working abroad.

What has been your most exciting accomplishment?
Receiving the ACF Chicago Chefs of Cuisine - Chef of The Year award in December 2013 was a great accomplishment. As the FIRST African American Chef in Chicago’s history (1927) to get the coveted award, I’m so honored to receive it. It just really feels good to be recognized by your peers. I promised my late grandmother Mary Hazzard, the best chef I have ever known and worked with, that I would get her a GOLD MEDAL. (Teary-eyed) Although I’m late, I did it!!! The Gold Medal!!! Granny, THIS IS FOR YOU!!!

Shane Miller

Area Executive Chef
Houston, TX

 

What led you to your current position at Sodexo?
Prior to joining Sodexo in 2006 as a Unit Chef at the Houston Zoo, my experience was in restaurants and catering large-scale events. Once hired, I took the bull by the horns and started getting innovative with products and implementing new standards. Management took notice of my concepts and asked me to begin introducing them at other locations. As these projects began to take me away from the unit more and more, we were able to hire another chef to cover the growing needs at the Zoo.

Having the support of my management team has allowed me to determine my own career path, take risks and be cutting-edge. Although I was a little uneasy about transitioning from the hospitality industry to a corporate setting, I found that Sodexo chefs are able to bring their creativity, innovation and personality into the kitchen. And with strong drive and ambition, there are more opportunities than you can imagine.

What has been your most exciting accomplishment?
Being a part of the new business pitch team has been really fun. It feels great to be a part of the winning bid team, especially when it means having bragging rights over friends at the competitors.

Incorporating top trends in my division has also been extremely rewarding. With sustainability being at the forefront of Sodexo’s initiatives and the conservation efforts being a major focus at the zoo, it feels great to be able to introduce concepts and products that make a difference.

What motivates you?
Kicking out really good food! Honestly, I’m motivated by a challenge. I thrive on tinkering with something that works and making it better and more efficient; I can’t rest until it’s fixed.

I’m lucky that my division is really supportive and encourages innovation. They recognize and reward people who really take risks and go big.

What is your typical day like?
Wow. Typical? I deal with so many different accounts; there really is no “typical” day. It’s literally a different day, each and every day. I keep an open mind about what could happen; seeing who needs support and jumping in to help firefight. I also get requests to do PR runs on occasion, taking me all over the country. Really, nothing gets mundane.

What is the best part of working for Sodexo?
Unlimited resources. That sums it up. With the giant buying power that Sodexo brings to the table, we’re able to make sure we procure proper ingredients. And when creating programs, we have the support of Sodexo’s enormous network of dietitians. This is not cookie-cutter corporate. We’re dealing with major cultural destinations like zoos, museums, conference centers, sports arenas and amusement parks.

What advice do you have for a chef considering Sodexo?
The sky’s the limit with our company. There’s so much room for people who want to take initiative, be mentored and grow their career. It’s been nothing I expected, to be quite honest. I was apprehensive to work in a corporate environment, picturing the mundane, but it’s anything but that. It’s what keeps me going, actually.

Ernest Servantes

Executive Chef
Chopped Winner
Seguin, TX
Texas Lutheran College

 

Following fierce battles with three talented competitors and howling Arizona desert winds, chef Ernest Servantes from Sodexo's team at Texas Lutheran University claimed the title of Chopped Grill Master and the $50,000 grand prize.

Work/Life Balance at Sodexo
I was an Executive Chef at a high-end restaurant. Although the experience was great, I missed my family and not being around to see my kids grow up. My wife found out about a Chef Manager position at Texas Lutheran College and encouraged me to apply. I was offered the position and loved having time off for holidays and weekends – all of the things I had never had. After 2 years working as a chef manager, I was promoted to Executive Chef and served also as the district executive chef.

Variety and Challenge
A typical day is filled with "controlled chaos," which is what I love! I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every day is different. I start off the day with morning runs such as quality control, reviewing catering orders and making sure everything is ready for meal service. I also hold a daily “rally” meeting to get the staff prepared for the day and thank them for their commitment to our team. The afternoons consist of completing paperwork and preparing for the evening meal service. I go home around 7pm daily and start all over again the next day.

A Caring Company
The best part about working for Sodexo is knowing that I work for a company that cares about its employees and wants them to succeed and grow. It makes me want to come to work every day. Sodexo cares!

Why It's Worthwhile
Eighty percent of my motivation comes from seeing the students grow. You see them come in at 19 with their video games and see them come back as business men and women working in law firms and corporations. Working with students, it’s never a boring day.

A Humbling Experience
Winning the Chopped Grill Master competition was amazing. When I saw how proud my family was, especially my kids, it was the greatest part. It was a humbling experience and at the end of the day it wasn’t about winning the money. It was about gaining respect as a chef.

Congratulations to Chef Servantes for winning it all while successfully representing his family, Sodexo and Texas Lutheran University.

 

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