The first thing Chef Derek Culver made in home economics class was an apron. He likes to say it was the start of his career. From that moment, at the age of 10, Derek has been making delicious food with one simple secret ingredient: care. This ingredient has spread through not only the food that he creates, but through the newly improved Gourmet Dining Services product.
Derek is the man behind the popular mac and cheese and buffalo chicken sliders that Seton Hall students run toward at the feature station.
Alfred Frungillo, CEO of GDS, said it features all of the comfort foods for students. “Like how you have your favorite NYC restaurant and you always want to eat there, that’s what we wanted to do with the feature station,” Frungillo said.
Derek said he loves to cook these types of comfort foods because he cares about how his customers feel when they eat. He added that one day he wants to open a restaurant called “D’s Place” that features all comfort foods.
“I want people to enjoy the experience of eating my food,” he explained. “Sit back, relax and enjoy it.”
Dakota Best, a sophomore marketing and management major, said after what seems like a semester of complaining about GDS, he is finally seeing some changes.
Chef Arthur D’Addario has been coming into SHU and whipping up restaurant quality meals for the students. Frungillo said that when students come back from spring break there will be a brand new breakfast bar that will feature items such as eggs benedict.
Kaley Hilts, a junior marketing major said GDS is absolutely stepping up its game.
The improvements do not stop here. Frungillo and his team have recently implemented the new Chattback program. Students who see something they don’t like in the cafeteria can simply text (973)-218-5932 and a manager will reply. These texts can range from saying there is no bread left to a complaint that they serve a certain meal too much.
Frungillo added that last week a student texted Chattback to tell them the BYOB line was too long. A GDS manager saw it immediately and sent over extra workers to help serve the students.
“It is 100% the student feedback that is constantly evolving the program,” Frungillo said.
Bringing it back to Derek, Frungillo said that when an employee cares the way Derek does it creates a more satisfying experience for all. With these recent changes, that element of care could be spreading across the entire GDS program at Seton Hall.
“The only thing better than the food is talking to the workers in the cafeteria,” Hilts said. “And if GDS keeps going on this path I am really hopeful for the food here.”
Siobhan McGirl can be reached at email@example.com.