The Eastern Nazarene College Dining Commons has been under recent renovations this summer; many changes have been made ranging from management to the food served.
This summer, Jamie Beckermann, an alum of Free Will Baptist College with a Culinary Arts degree, became the new Dining Commons Manager, stepping into the place of long-time employee Rick Harmon. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri. She started her culinary experience at age 14 as a prep cook. “I had an excellent executive chef,” explained Beckermann. He was willing to teach her the ins and outs of the kitchen. She worked with him at the Hilton until he left the job when she was 18. At that young age, she became executive chef in his stead. “The restaurant is not a wonderful place sometimes,” stated Beckermann, so she decided to leave working in the kitchen to manage them instead.
ENC has been partnered with Pioneer Catering Company for almost 50 years. Beckermann came to ENC with a clear vision to help renovate the Dining Commons. Beckermann worked with Pioneer previously for a year in Oklahoma before coming to ENC. Pioneer chose Beckermann to come because of her prior experience being a “fixer” in the restaurant business. She has gone into different work places and redone their menus, as well as hired staff and revamped their programs.
Along with Beckermann, more new staff members were brought on board. A new prep cook and breakfast cook were hired to help meals run smoother, create a little bit of organization, and “fill in missing gaps,” according to Beckermann.
Beckermann and the new staff are continually working to make changes. Some of the changes include a complete menu change still in the process of being made and a new ice cream cooler which has been installed. Just recently, permission was granted to change the old condiment section of the cafeteria into a “healthy food section” with fresh fruit and pre-made salads.
Beckermann explained that financially, the staff worked diligently to be at the point they are now, with a food spending increase of 30% and still rising. This extra money is going to allow more funding to be put into other areas that need it, such as staffing. Even though there are permanent positions in the Dining Commons, there is always room for more staff members that are passionate about the kitchen and will commit to working at ENC. This money will also allow for better-quality food to provide for a wide array of student needs, such as more vegan and gluten free options.
Beckermann is doing her part to hear student input regarding the Dining Commons. On October 4th, there was a survey day. With the student responses collected from these surveys, the staff will be able to make even more positive changes. They will continue to have these survey days throughout the year.