Executive Chef — at School

Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Shaun Robinson (BS '97, Food Service Administration; MS '05, Career and Technology in Culinary Arts) loves his job, and he's great at it too.

As an Executive Chef for Chartwells at Kalamazoo Public Schools, Robinson is responsible for a number of tasks. "
I train staff on culinary and safety skills to implement our menu and ensure it is executed properly. I am also in charge of catering, live cooking demonstrations for wellness events in the community, getting kids excited about food with our Chef 2 Schools programs in Kalamazoo and our area account in surrounding cities and states at times."

Because of his efforts, Robinson was named the Salaried Associate of the Year for the Great Lakes Region for Chartwells—and that was followed by National Salaried Associate of the Year for Chartwells division, a part of Compass Group USA.

Chartwells K-12 is one of 13 or more sub companies of Compass Group that provide contract services. Companies like Bon Appetit, Wolfgang Puck, Eurest Dining, Levy, and Morrison Senior Dining are just a few of the peer companies in Compass.

"Chartwells 'Eat-Learn-Live' is a standard in which we provide highly nutritious, tasty foods that exceed school food service by far," Robinson said. "More scratch cooking, better presentation, and educating customers with many wellness resources, like live cooking demos for students to sample in our facilities to promote our diverse menu. Our new Environments programs highlights a great menu for our elementary and secondary schools. Elementary schools that have fresh fruit and salad bars, secondary schools that provide at least six different stations daily, fresh composed salads and a la carte options daily. The universal breakfast program has been quite a hit for KPS as well."

Robinson was on a break after the birth of his youngest son when the position was created in Kalamazoo. He decided to apply. "The job has bloomed into a much bigger role with the company as well. I have worked in restaurants, colleges, nursing homes, delis, catering, meals on wheels—quite a diverse range of experiences that rounded out and brought me to school food service," Robinson explained.

So, what's the best part of his job?

"I enjoy my entire job, with a great staff. I think my favorite is throughout the year I will do pizza parties at our 17 elementary schools, making fresh pizzas for the entire school, and on those days the kids really show how excited they are about the food! Every year when they see me in the schools they ask when I will be coming to make homemade pizzas for them. Career days are always a treat when I can do live cooking demonstrations in the classroom and talk to the kids about nutrition, 'super foods' and what kinds of careers are available based on my own experiences."

Robinson is a Persian Gulf War Veteran. In the past he was a certified dietary manager and currently teaches Culinary Arts for KPS in the Community Education Department. His favorite memory of WMU is graduating from his Master's program, "the walk on the stage was the best!"