Last week, I had the pleasure of following Campus Cooks Regional Supervisor Martin Romero around for the day at Northwestern University. Northwestern is the school where Campus Cooks was founded, so it was only fitting to visit the different houses there to see Campus Cooks in action. Through this experience, I was able to sit down and talk with chefs, students and house directors about their experiences with Campus Cooks. The true regional supervisor experience.
So, what the heck is a regional supervisor?
The primary responsibility of a regional supervisor is to ensure that their region’s daily activities function smoothly. Regional supervisors oversee multiple houses throughout a campus or multiple campuses. Martin is in charge of the accounts at Northwestern University, Illinois Institute of Technology and Northern Illinois University. Martin himself is an extremely driven and energetic guy. He drinks more cups of coffee than anybody I know and commits to travelling to his accounts 5 days a week. Although his accounts do not necessarily need him that often, Martin described to me how he loves checking in and being able to have conversations with his clients and his employees face-to-face. Martin himself worked in the restaurant industry for 20+ years before becoming a private chef with Campus Cooks in 2007. A few years later, he was asked to become a regional supervisor and has been in this role ever since. Throughout our day, we traveled to many different houses to check in on the chefs, students, and housing directors to see how they were doing and how we can help.
We began our day at the Lambda Chi Alpha house at Northwestern. There, I met Chef Toni. Toni has been with Campus Cooks since 2013 and describes her experience with Campus Cooks as “life-changing” in the sense that Toni is able to have a true work-life balance in her role. Toni has a daughter and loves that she can work during the time that her daughter is at school, unlike many typical culinary positions. Better yet, she lives 10 minutes away from the Lambda Chi Alpha house. Throughout my conversation with her, the men of Lambda Chi Alpha were coming by and grabbing lunch, greeting Chef Toni and thanking her for the meal. The connection that Toni has with the students couldn’t go unnoticed. “The guys here are so great.” she beamed. I even found Toni and her assistant made it on the fraternity’s composite photo!
After our visit at Lambda Chi, we headed to Phi Kappa Psi. This was the fraternity where President Bill Reeder learned about the need for a better Greek food service through his own negative experiences dealing with poor food quality, cost overruns, attendance issues and theft. Phi Kappa Psi at Northwestern’s food service today reminded me exactly what Bill had envisioned for this chapter years ago. When we walked in, we were greeted by Chef Tyler, who had recently put out lunch of juicy burgers, homemade fries, and baked beans for the men. He was looking at his food order for next week. When Martin asked if Tyler had anything he needed help with, Tyler expressed that he was struggling to fulfill the chapter’s request for salmon while staying within their budget. Martin then sat down with Tyler and looked through his order, researching what other ways they could find more cost-efficient items. Five minutes later, Martin and Tyler had found a solution and put in the order for quality food, salmon and all, within the chapter’s budget.
After we visited a few more fraternity houses, Martin took me over to some of the sorority houses on campus. It was incredibly interesting to see how each house was being served a completely different type of lunch, tailored to their chapters wants. We saw everything from tacos to chicken salad, all made in kitchens with entirely different layouts. That afternoon, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a menu meeting at Kappa Alpha Theta. Menu meetings are conducted weekly with the chef, the housing director, and a student representative. Martin told me that he tries to attend these meetings as often as possible in order to ensure that the chefs are listening to the chapter’s requests for the upcoming weeks. Martin also took this time to ensure that both the students and the house director were happy with the food from the week prior and if there was any feedback they could provide. It was so nice to see how open and collaborative of a space this meeting allotted. Even though the majority of the chapter was not present, it was great to see how the student in the house manager role could share any feedback she had heard from the other ladies and use that time to discuss in-person what the chapter may want going forward.
We ended the day at the Alpha Chi Omega house, where classy Halloween décor was covering the house from head to toe. I later found out that this was the work of house director Judy, who has been a housing director for majority of the past 12 years. A former teacher, Judy truly has a heart of gold and a passion for the ladies living in her home. She began her experience as a house director at Purdue University, and has been in several different houses there and at Northwestern. Judy explained to me how every single house she has been with has had Campus Cooks as their food service provider. “I would not take a position at a house unless they had Campus Cooks or were willing to switch to Campus Cooks,” Judy explained. She even mentioned to me that one of our current Sales Representatives used to be her chef all those years ago. Hearing her rave about her students, her chefs, and her experience being a house director almost made me want to be a house director myself. At the end of our conversation, she showed me what her and her chef, Maggie, had been creating all week to help the AXO ladies get in the Halloween spirit. It was incredible to see the lengths that Chef Maggie and Judy went to make the girls truly feel at home. To me, feeling at home is one of the most important parts of the Greek experience. To see firsthand how the chef can help enhance that “home” feeling, that stuck with me more than anything else. That’s what Campus Cooks was founded on as we commit ourselves to actively enhancing the Greek Experience.
Being a Regional Supervisor is one of the most important roles in our entire business. Seeing firsthand how Martin took the time to visit so many different houses, have so many unique conversations and problem solve along the way, all while keeping an enthusiastic attitude, solidified this fact for me. Being a Regional Supervisor is no joke, but wonderful people like Martin sure make it a fun and impactful experience.