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A day in the life

Dining hall staff

By Julia Werth
On March 11, 2014

  • The South Campus Marketplace is not only a place where students dine and socialize, but it is also the work place of many ambitious and hardworking dining staff. Chaz Griffin works at the dining hall from 8 a.m. to 4. 30 p.m.

While many students visit UConn's dining halls two, three, even four times a day, not many are aware of just how much work happens behind the scenes.
As the production manager at South Campus Marketplace, Chaz Griffin knows the work inside and out, and tries to ensure that students remain blissfully unaware of the work it takes to get the food to their plates.
Starting at 8 a.m. every day, Monday to Friday, Griffin oversees the kitchen, checks food for quality and makes sure that communications between the kitchen and the dining hall run smoothly. He works until 4:30, and ensures that transitions between meals happen without a hitch.
Griffin said that the most challenging part of the job is the sheer breadth of it. "I'm covering of all aspects of the operation, and you have to manage your time in order to make sure that happens smoothly," said Griffin. "We do continuous service, so there's no shut down in between meals. The customers shouldn't see that change so we make it as smooth as possible."
In addition to overseeing a 15-person staff, Griffin also works with the production staff, manager and culinary director to plan menus.
"Writing menus for following semesters is a long process," said Griffin. "South is pretty big so we have a lot of stations to cover."
Since students are only in the dining hall for about twenty minutes at a time, many of them don't realize how constantly the dining staff is working. "Due to the sheer amount of production there's really no down-time," said Griffin. "Everyone's always really cruising along."
Although Griffin's job is grounded in management, he helps out with all aspects of food preparation that need his assistance.
"I try not to cook too much, but when there are staff shortages I'll cover them," said Griffin, who went to school for culinary arts and has worked at a few restaurants before getting experience in catering as a chef and coming to UConn five years ago.
"I prefer working in management, but most chefs would say the opposite," said Griffin. "One day I hope to be an assistant manager."

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