Twelve years ago Jose Antonio Mojica was serving his country as an air defenseman. Now he has students running to breakfast for his amazing omelets in Castleton’s Huden Dining Hall.
Mojica stands in the middle of Huden every Monday thru Friday. Students walk up to the Omelet station and pause for a moment to figure out what they want. Mojica sets up the peppers, onions, and tomatoes as the students come to his station. He has the skillets ready and begins chatting everyone up.
Laughs and stories are shared between the students and Mojica. The line begins to build at the omelet station. The smell of butter and bacon fill the air. It’s breakfast time.
“I love my job, I feel appreciated and trusted,” said Mojica.
After graduating high school, Mojica said he worked in various restaurants as a prep cook and a supervisor of a deli until being approached by U.S. Army recruiters.
“My family was very supportive and wanted the best for me,” said Mojica.
He decided to join the military and began basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky and was stationed at many different places before finishing in Fort Stewart, Georgia. Mojica served as air defense, which involved him riding around in a Humvee with 50-caliber machine guns on the side looking for enemy planes. He served in the Army from 1997-2000.
After his military stint and jobs in restaurants and doing road work after Hurricane Irene,Mojica saw an opening at Castleton that involved cooking and he wanted it.
Since coming to Castleton, Mojica has become very popular with the students.
“Jose is the reason I wake up in the morning,” said junior Chris Evertz.
Mojica makes omelets five days a week from 7-11 a.m. and also helps with cooking and mealideas in the back area of Huden. He said he likes to make the environment as upbeat as possible.
“It’s great making the omelets, it’s for you personally and I want people to walk away with a good experience,” he said.
The interaction with everyone, students and teachers, adds to the experience, he said.
“He is very respectful and always likes to have a good conversation,” said freshman Brandon Root.
Last year, omelets were served on the weekends only. The decision to have him manning the station daily has been applauded by students.
“The omelet station was added to increase student satisfaction and it’s extremely popular,” said Jeff Kurton, Sodexo’s general manager in Huden.
Mojica said heloves being a part of the community in Huden, but his big love is his family. Mojica has his fiancÃ© of four years, Melanie Walker, and two kids, 3-year-old daughter, Adora, and 13-year-old stepson Tyler.
“When I see the students in the morning, I like to use them for role models for what I want my kids to be like,” said Mojica.