Steve May, food service director & chef of Anderson dining services, can say he definitely veered off the path from stock broker to food service along his unusual career route.
May originally obtained a degree in finance and marketing. He admits he didn’t get into fine dining the normal way, although crunching numbers may have helped with the business aspect of food service.
“I started working at a catering business in Indianapolis, Jug’s Catering, and stayed for seven years,” said May. He discovered he liked the food business, and continued working in similar venues, including Bonge’s in Perkinsville for five years. At the encouragement of a friend, he took culinary classes.
Cooking has been a mainstay in his life since childhood. May’s salivary glands water as he shares how his mom made homemade bread and cookies.
“I just wanted to lick the beaters, so I helped her in the kitchen,” he says laughing. “I liked shrimp cocktail and key lime pie when I was really little.”
His mom’s chowder recipe and home style dishes were always favorites, although he mentions that “spaghetti wasn’t home style then, and there was no such thing as Mexican food or pizza places. We made our own pizzas.”
Both his life experiences and culinary background led him to further his career with a new position at Anderson University on January 1, 2006. With 1,700 students, faculty and staff to consider when preparing the daily menu, May has a huge task to complete. Especially in the Olt Student Center, a building steeped in tradition and food since it was built in 1964. May points out that President James L. Edwards ate as a student in the building when he attended.
What goes into deciding what to feed a ravenous group of college students away from home, and mom’s cooking?
Presently, options include a grill area for meats such as chicken, a make-your-own waffle maker for students, and vegetarian dishes interspersed into the main choices of the day.
“We get requests for more rice, less rice. Surveys are usually conflicting on what students want,” said May. If a student has allergies or special dietary needs, May and staff do their best to accommodate them. That may require cooking food in a separate pan free from foods that trigger the allergy.
May states he uses a standard five-week rotating schedule, but veers from that when considering regional favorites such as biscuits and gravy served daily for breakfast. Next year, he will continue offering more healthy options and providing students with more ways to make better choices on their own.
Becky Curtis, sophomore, says the salad bar is her favorite. “I normally go to the salad bar or make toast. Sometimes I wish there were more choices on the salad bar. Pasta is a regular and that helps since I play tennis.”
Ryan Deeter, sophomore, scopes out the two main choices of the day first. “If I don’t want them, I go for sandwiches which are a good backup, along with fries, soup, or fruit. I like the fruit here, and I’m a big cereal eater.”
Rachael Peli, sophomore, feels the fruit and salad isn’t always as fresh as she would like it to be, and wishes the vegetables weren’t soaking in butter. “I have to make a meal out of the smaller dishes sometimes.”
Yet, her friend, Elizabeth Vincent, sophomore, says she loves making her own waffles “because it’s relatively quick and sweet and feels like a treat.”
She would like to see other main meals not made of rice or pasta but of healthier options.
—Kim Ousley is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.