You may see a new face around the Marketplace this year. Durham College and UOIT have a new food services director.
John Kerr’s laid-back manner and logistical approach to connecting with the students may mean a future with more student-assisted food choices.
“We’re looking at engaging the students and Aramark within the dining halls,” said Kerr. “They (Aramark) felt there was a disconnect.”
Kerr has worked in the hospitality industry for 25 years, and has spent four years with Durham College. He has worked at other Ontario colleges and universities such as Fleming, Trent, and Laurentian.
While at Trent University in Peterborough, Kerr helped to put on mock “Chopped,” a battle between the university residences.
Student teams worked with Aramark’s chefs, using local ingredients from a mysterious black box in an attempt to create the winning dish. With only an hour and a half, students used their culinary skills in hopes of creating a dish worthy of being served on Valentine’s Day dish at all four university dining halls.
While there are no plans for an event like “Chopped” yet, Kerr has similar ideas in sight. He plans to unite DC/UOIT students and Aramark by spearheading a food advisory committee to help bridge the gap between the customer and the supplier.
But he says the food advisory committee may take a while to get off the ground due to the difficulty of selecting the right individuals to represent mass groups of people.
“You can’t really say who’s the ‘proper person’ because every customer is the proper person,” said Kerr with a furrowed brow.
One of his first projects at Durham is to survey the students to better understand what they want, and to give them the opportunity to get involved in food choices.
The surveys will run for ten days, and the feedback will be discussed at his weekly meeting with Durham College’s executive assistant to the vice president, Beth Smith.
In her role, Smith oversees facilities and ancillary services such as ventilation, IT, and most importantly, food. She has worked with many food service directors at DC/UOIT, including Kerr in the past.
She believes that Kerr is a good fit for the job, and will be able to meet demand as well as implement positive changes.