On Nov. 17, Castleton College welcomed Rob Macfarlane as Sodexo’s new general manager replacing Jeff Kurto. Macfarlane is a Vermont native and previously worked as an “area support chef” traveling upwards of 600 miles a week.
“It was time to come back home and settle down,” Macfarlane said.
Macfarlane worked at Keene State College before coming to Castleton and said he worked hard to improve the dining hall and services.
“It’s a lot nicer than it used to be,” said Keene State junior Jacob Walker said, bolstering Macfarlane’s assertion.
For Macfarlane, feeding college students is what he loves to do.
“I found my calling when I got into campus dining. I like hanging out with kids more than adults,” he said chuckling to himself. “You think I’m kidding, but I’m serious.”
Macfarlane has traveled to Finland and Sweden on business and has years of experience in the food industry.
“He’s a gourmet chef and we’re lucky to have him,” said Castleton President Dave Wolk while having lunch with Macfarlane.
Hoping to improve the dining hall in phase three of Huden renovations, Macfarlane said he wants Huden to, “match the rest of the beautiful campus because Castleton’s campus is beautiful and the dining hall should compliment it.”
With students eating three times a day, seven times a week and approximately 32 weeks throughout the school year, they are bound to complain about the food. But to battle that, Macfarlane said he hopes to add some diversity and new events to spice up the dining hall.
“I want to incorporate new events for students to participate in,” said Macfarlane.
One event will include the sports teams going against each other in an eating contest called “Meal Madness.” When the winner is determined, Sodexo will donate the winnings to the Stop Hunger Now foundation in the winner’s name.
Although he said Huden already is in the process of improving, he wants to keep making it better.
Students like the sound of that.
“I hope Huden becomes a great place to eat,” said off-campus student Olivia Janus. “I want to get a commuter meal plan next semester and hearing about all the changes definitely makes more apt to get one.”
Macfarlane said hearing from students like Janus is important to him.
“I want them to decide what we have on the menu,” he said. “I mean, we won’t be having steak and lobster every night but maybe once a week or so we could figure something out,” said Macfarlane. “I’m not going to be writing hilarious comments like Jeff (Kurto), but I want the students to come see me and explain to me what they have an issue with.”
Sophomore Brooke Naylor is excited to hear Macfarlane wants student input.
“I think if they really listen to our comments and try to work with us Huden could be a really great place to eat and maybe even comforting for people who miss home.”
Macfarlane hopes to incorporate a family-style serving night where students enter and pick a table to sit down at without going to wait in line. Once students are seated Huden workers, and maybe if even Wolk, will come around and serve them as if they are at a restaurant or at home.
“I would love that,” said junior Tanner Dana. “That would really make me feel like I was at home.”
Naylor agreed saying “I would make all my friends go with me like we were having a family dinner!”