By Ashlynn Worley
For two consecutive years, Quincy University’s dining services received the National Five-Jewel Award for Inclusion Excellence.
After submitting a videotape entry, QU dining services was selected as the overall winner for this award due to the success of the Iron Chef Challenges.
In October, a few Chartwells employees attended the Compass Night of the Awards Celebration at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Florida.
Iron Chef has created a sense of inclusion and a culture for students and staff to engage with cafeteria employees with mutual respect.
Students eat in the cafeteria hundreds of times in a semester.
QU’s cafeteria is open around 220 academic days in a year in addition to early dining for pre-season athletes and certain extended periods of time.
Senior Director of Dining Chris Blakeman said there is a lot that goes into an overall great dining experience, including having the employees interact and engage with students.
“The biggest challenge for us is to try to break up the monotony of the food. So the Iron Chef Challenge created an opportunity for our associates to get out of their normal shell and get out in front of the students and challenge each other,” Blakeman said.
Blakeman said he takes student satisfaction seriously and wants to continue providing new options the students want.
He said he must maintain a balance among the university’s allotted budget, student enrollment, and providing things for current students.
“We all know we need another food venue on campus but we also have to have the business model to support that,” Blakeman said.
Bryce Johnson is a senior and has eaten in the cafeteria during his four years at QU.
“It has definitely gotten better than when I was first here so that’s good. They made the music better, the food has gotten better. The only thing I think they can do that a lot of people miss is the Hawks Hangout, you know instead of just sandwiches, the stuff they actually used to make would be great because a lot of people miss that,” Johnson said.
Blakeman has an old saying he goes by that is “you are only as good as your last meal” so he pushes his staff to be better than they were yesterday.
For the third year in a row, Chartwells won two regional awards for best practices.
QU’s cafeteria was selected as the 2018 Chartwells Higher Education Regional Account of the Year.
Larger regional schools like the University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Arkansas, Oakland University, Tennessee Tech, Austin Peay State University, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and many others were also in the running for the regional award.
For the regional award, QU Dining Services was recognized for many achievements including its menu quality and variety, guest service, student engagement, wellness and sustainability, safety, diversity and inclusion, and community involvement.
QU Dining Services is operated by The Compass Group’s Chartwells Higher Education division.
Chartwells leadership staff includes Blakeman, Joe Bordwick, Kelly Pfab, and Chase Mangan.
In addition to the Regional Account of the Year award, Blakeman was named 2018 Chartwells Higher Education Regional Director of the Year.
He said over time a staff or team takes on the personality of its director and he attributes his achievements to his employees’ efforts and friendly, caring service.
Blakeman joined QU Dining Services in 2012 and has 37 years of management experience, primarily focused on food services.
Other management services Blakeman was previously involved in include healthcare services, housekeeping, hazardous waste, laundry and linen, and sterilization.
Bordewick joined the QU staff in 2013 with over 15 years of marketing and management experience.
He is nationally certified with ServSafe and Illinois Food Safety and Sanitation.
Before he became QU’s assistant director of dining services and catering manager, Bordewick graduated from the University of Illinois and is a United States Marine Corps veteran.
He is also an active volunteer in the Quincy community.
The 2018 QU cafeteria staff includes approximately 24 employees.
Besides the team recognition, Pfab and Robin Hummert received individual awards as well.
Hummert won Associate of the Year award two years ago and during her 16 years of working in the cafeteria, she has seen a lot of change.
“I have seen a lot. We’re offering different kinds of food, having contests, all kinds of different stuff for the students. I won several awards for customer service and that was really exciting. I love the students, love my bosses, I love the people I work with. It is fun to see how the students’ graduate, grow and turn around and have children and everything,” Hummert said.
With over 25 years of experience in food services, Pfab, assistant director of dining services, joined the QU Chartwells staff in 2015.
Last year Pfab won a Food Production of the Year award.
She attended military school for a period of time and previously served as food service director at Culver Stockton College.
Pfab is a national ServSafe instructor and Illinois State Food Safety and Sanitation certified.
Chartwells is managed by the Compass Group North America, a leading foodservice and support services company with over 250,000 associates and $17 billion in revenues last year.
Compass Group USA has been recognized by Forbes as a Best Employer for Diversity for 2018.