Charley’s Steak House: Orlando, Fla.
Chef Duke’s Café Giovanni: New Orleans
Deerfield Golf & Tennis Club: Newark, Del.
Marcella’s Columbus, Ohio
MorningStar Senior Living at Applewood: Lakewood, Colo.
Oakleys Bistro: Indianapolis
University of Colorado: Boulder, Colo.
95 Cordova Restaurant, Casa Monic Hotel: St. Augustine, Fla.
University of Colorado executive chef Kerry Paterson spends most days budgeting and overseeing the preparation of about 15,000 meals.
Paterson and about a dozen other staff members spend their days feeding masses of CU students — a job that can become quite grueling, he said.
“Feeding thousands of hungry college students every day is definitely a challenging and exciting experience for me,” Paterson said.
After 10 years at CU, Paterson and his team are being recognized for their hard work.
CU’s Housing and Dining Services will accept one of eight national Achievement of Excellence awards by the American Culinary Federation at its national convention next week.
Amy Beckstrom, director of CU’s dining services, said the award will finally give Paterson and the staff the recognition they deserve.
In previous years, the awards were broken into categories, including university foodservice, but this year the categories were removed and CU was the only school to make the list. Among the other winners were a golf and tennis club, a steakhouse, a hotel restaurant and a senior living center in Lakewood.
“We want to be the best and Chef Paterson has really grown this program over the past 10 years,” Beckstrom said. “This award really validates our accomplishments and shows the hard work and training our staff has put into the program.”
Winners had to be nominated by a local chapter member and complete an application to receive the honor, ACF spokeswoman Leah Craig said.
Commitment to sustainable foods and energy conservation initiatives were noted by ACF as some of CU’s strongest elements.
While a focus on locally grown, organic and sustainable foods separates CU from similar university food services, some students said that’s not enough to earn a national culinary award.
“I don’t want to be a downer and they do have good food in the dining halls sometimes, but it’s not award-winning in my opinion,” said CU sophomore Jasmeet Bajwa.
Bajwa said she ate in one of the five dining halls almost every day last year and she doesn’t plan on going back anytime soon.
Freshmen often rely on the dining halls for the majority of their meals and — after almost nine months straight — even good food can become mundane, Paterson said.
“We try to keep the menu full of high-quality foods, but feeding thousands every day can be limiting,” Paterson said. “There are only so many ingredients we can use and I imagine students can get sick of eating the same stuff.”
CU senior Melanie Rennert said while dining hall food is not the tastiest option for lunch, a variety of choices does help alleviate some of the repetitiveness for freshmen.
“I ate there so much as a freshman,” Rennert said. “But the vegan and vegetarian options made it a little better.”
Students may not agree that the dining halls produce culinary excellence but Kari Jensen, apprenticeship director for the local chapter of the American Culinary Federation, said it’s about more than just great taste.
Jensen cited Paterson’s successful apprenticeship program, professionalism and high standards as a few of the reasons why she nominated CU’s food services for the award.
“I think Paterson is one chef that really lives by the culinary code,” Jensen said. “If I could clone him, I would. He’s wonderful.”
Students may not be psyched at the thought of eating campus cafeteria food, but they might be surprised if they give it a chance, Paterson said.
“This isn’t your mother’s cafeteria anymore,” Paterson said. “Our students are educated about food and what they like and don’t like and we continue to educate ourselves to improve our program.”