Piece of Cake?

When I was offered the promotion from Unit Manager to Regional Supervisor for Campus Cooks, I thought to myself, “Piece of cake. I’ve got this.” Running an operation was nothing new for me. I’d ran restaurant kitchens, catering kitchens, and was a major principal at a retail grocery store. At one point in the past, I had even branched out from operations and taken the additional role of marketing manager just to have a new challenge. I’ve always been keen on new goals and new challenges, so Regional Supervisor sounded like a great next step.

And while it has been a great next step, I have to admit, after my first full week as a Regional Supervisor, I realized that I wasn’t so much being handed a piece of cake as being handed a recipe for cake. My next steps were to source the ingredients, measure, mix, bake and decorate several cakes from this recipe. And additionally, I realized that the recipe needed to be altered slightly for each house I was to provide cake.

Okay, enough with the cake baking metaphor for a minute. When I started as a regional, I found out very quickly that my work begins long before the chef starts to prep that first meal. In fact, it is my duty to make sure we have an appropriate kitchen, find out the needs and wants of each individual house, and to find the right chef for each house. From there, I have to make sure the chef is properly trained, that all standard operational procedures are being followed, and that we know exactly what the client expects of that chef and his staff. Then, I have to make sure that the chef knows exactly what the client expects.

Then starts the paperwork and the conversations. I’m viewing menus. I’m watching ordering. I’m talking to vendors. Additionally, I am liaison between the house management and the chef and the chef and the company principals and the company principals and the house management. Whew!

Luckily, I have the entire Campus Cooks team behind me. From John and Carl in our training department to our directors of operations, there is a dedicated staff eager to help me mix, bake, and decorate these cakes. So, yes, it is a lot more than a piece of cake, but I’ve always believed that a cake tastes better when we make it ourselves anyway.

- David Thornton, Regional Supervisor