Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Inventory & Ice Cream.

Hello again!
Hope everyone is settled and enjoying their time so far at their internships. We are half way through week 2 already, and I can see how fast the rest of the time is going to just fly by. After working in the South dining hall last week, we got a scenery change by working in the Putnam dining hall to complete inventory, receiving, and a little bit of chef work.

Yesterday, we spent our time working with Terry, who is in charge of the inventory and receiving over at Putnam. She put us to work, starting with taking inventory. I was assigned to the chef box (produce, meat, and egg fridge), and Laura was assigned to the dairy cooler. We both completed a portion of the dry storage inventory, and lucky for us Terry helped with the freezer. With three people helping at once, it saved us from being frozen for too long! She also taught us the importance of double checking how each product is measured when taking inventory, whether it be pounds, cases, bunches, etc. This is important when it comes to accurately measuring how much you have available and saves on food costs. We had plenty of questions to ask and Terry was very helpful at clarifying as we went along.

Freezer Inventory

After completing the inventory, Terry put all the information into the computer to print out an inventory analysis, which measures the counts from the last inventory check to the current inventory. This is when discrepancies are noted, such as the mistake that was made with feta cheese. During this inventory, the feta was measured by pounds, but on the last inventory it was measured by the case, which left a big food cost difference between the two. This was a valuable lesson to learn about double checking the units. Although a tedious task, it was beneficial to learn and take part in inventory.

After all our hard work, we decided it was past due to take a visit to the UConn Dairy Bar, where they make their own ice cream on campus. Being a self proclaimed ice cream addict, I was like a kid in a candy store, or rather an ice cream shoppe when we had the opportunity to go. After hard deliberation (and some free samples) I settled for the banana chocolate chip, and Laura got the raspberry sorbet. I have made it my goal to try ALL 24 flavors the Dairy Bar offers, and am up for the challenge! One down, twenty three to go....

In Ice Cream Heaven.

The next day, we focused on the aspect of receiving orders, since no orders came in yesterday due to the holiday on Monday. Again, it was important to double check the units and amounts of product that was ordered and make sure it matches the amount received. We got to practice our receiving skills as well as get more familiar with the kitchen by taking 3 receiving orders.
Checking the invoice and receiving order

 Finally, we helped out in the kitchen since the dining hall  was packed with orientation students. I was in charge of fries, and Laura was on grilled cheese duty. It was important to keep an eye on how much of each was left on the serving line, and how many more students needed to go through in order to determine whether or not to make more. Chefs Bruce & Angel helped us along the way until all the students were served.

Tomorrow we are going over recipes for our themed meal, which we have decided to name, "Sand & Sea". We have lots of ideas, and are looking forward to working with Rob Landolphi on developing our menu more!

Looking forward to hearing more about everyones experiences throughout the summer!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Week 1 in Wyoming

Day 1:

Today we toured around the campus and the town to start to get acclimated and learn about the activities we could participate in.  We also met many of the managers we would be working with, although it is hard to remember all of their names because of how many there were!  The campus is really beautiful as is the small town of Laramie, Wyoming.  I have been enjoying the amazing weather that we really don’t get down in Texas.  The view from my dorm window is beautiful, and I love to leave the windows open all the time because it feels so great outside.  Although, leaving them open means that I wake up when all of the birds do!

                We also had a couple hours with Human Resources in the dining services to get to know what she does with the university.  This was our first rotation of management.  This really involved learning about laws and payroll concerns.  I really loved her views on employee retention.  She believes that job rotation and a reward system are important to keeping employees on longer.  She discussed how having student workers start out at lower positions and then working them up the ladder to a supervisor position could encourage workers to really work hard and stay at this job.  Also, it is good to make the more undesirable jobs be rotated through so that students could split the time they had to spend in those areas, such as the dish room.

                The orientation was a little slow going, but it did help us to understand what we would be doing and what is expected of us.  I am looking forward to all that I can learn through this internship and working with my fellow intern, Sara.

Day 2:

                First thing in the morning we were able to attend the meeting with all of the managers.  There they talked mainly about how they were going to renew their PepsiCo contract since they would be meeting with PepsiCo later that morning.  Also, they discussed how to use the CBORD system in a more effective way to reduce the over ordering of food.  The CBORD system really drives the entire operation because everyone uses it in some way.  After the meeting, we continued with orientation.  We discussed, in detail, all if the projects we would have to complete in our time here.  I think we were both pretty excited about the recipe development one, which is also first.  We will be able to prepare our dish and also serve it in the dining hall.  I am currently planning to do a Japanese dish for my main course, but I am still unsure of what to do for the vegetable side or the prepared salad.

Day 3:

                Today we were able to work in the dish room to learn all the different chemicals and the different operations.  This was a little difficult because they were retiling the floor so we were not able to see it in action.  We were able to look up all the chemicals in the MSDS binder and found some interesting ones.  There was a hand soap that was combustible.  We were also able to help to update the binder with the new chemicals they were using. 

                We had two meetings in the afternoon that were kind of interesting.  The first one was with the city health inspector.  She told us how she did inspections and then through in a couple horror stories.  We really enjoyed our next meeting which was with the pest control specialist on campus.  He talked about all the different ways that bugs and rodents can affect the food establishment.  Not only can they come through places in the walls or open doors, but the people who work and eat there can bring them in.  He also discussed that the most important part of pest control is the prevention of them getting inside in the first place.  What was most interesting about the health inspector and the pest control specialist was the way they set their standard for how they do their jobs.  They both had said that the level of safety they wanted to provide was whether or not they would be comfortable bringing their child there. 

Day 4:

                Thursday morning we continued our Safety and Sanitation portion.  We mainly discussed the importance of HACCP plans.  Here at the University of Wyoming, they have been starting to implement HACCP plans even though they are not required.  This is more or less to get the employees used to them so that when they are required to follow HACCP later it will be easier to implement them and probably already in full swing.  There was some time for us to work on our projects while we were waiting for the dish room to be ready.  We were able to observe the dish room in motion during dinner time.  After dinner was over and all the dishes had been cleaned, they showed us how they cleaned the machines to be ready for the next day. 

                I had my own little drama that had to be taken care of.  I had forgotten my social security card in Texas and this was quite necessary to continue working.  My family had mailed it to me, and it was supposed to arrive on Wednesday but it did not.  I was told I would not be able to work again until the card came in.  So, do not ever forget your legal documents when getting in a new job.

Day 5:

                I was not able to work Friday morning because my social security card did not come in.  It finally arrived in the afternoon so I could pick up work for the dinner shift.  My fellow intern was able to work on recipe development with one of the employees, so we were able to try and critique it.  That was a lot of fun.  Then we worked the salad bar and learned how to clean it up at the end of the night. 

Day 6:

                I had to work this Saturday to make up for the time I missed on Friday.  I went in and worked to organize the MSDS sheets and make sure that the binder was up to date with all of the chemicals that we use in the kitchen. 

**Pictures to come, my camera did not turn out well.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Busy Days!

Hello everyone! It has been a busy couple days for Emily and I.  We have been working at South Dining Hall, getting to know the kitchen (which is big and busy) which is important, because this is where we will be hosting our theme meal.  We had a great experience at South.  Thursday we worked with Donna and Sharon, two awesome, helpful, funny kitchen assistants, who taught us how to manage the salad bar. Donna is very knowledgeable and and creative with food, and taught Emily and I how to make flowers out of lemons, onions and tomatoes.  The onions were the most difficult, as you had to have the luck of choosing an onion with many layers.

 We also carved out a watermelon to make a basket for our "flowers". Donna and Sharon shared neat shortcuts for vegetable prep, such as this little trick for cutting cherry tomatoes: place cherry tomatoes between two lids, such as yogurt lids, and run the knife through! Hint: make sure your knife is sharp, and don't push down on the lids too hard.

Another interesting happening at South on Thursday was the unexpected influx of students for lunch and dinner, as the other dining hall which is open during the summer lost power due to construction. Though it could have been a chaotic situation, all the kitchen assistants and chefs worked to produce more food to feed the extra mouths.
Friday we worked at South again, but this time focusing not only salad bar management but we also worked the pizza station and learned the ins and outs of the kitchen and serving area.  There are many walk in coolers and stock rooms, and each item has its home. The pizza area of the serving room is very popular, especially with orientation students (there are a lot of them right now), so we were quite busy making pizzas. Every day the pizza station pumps out cheese, pepperoni and a specialty pizzas.  Emily and I were lucky to work with two great kitchen assistants, Cecilia and Cindy, who made us feel right at home. Amazingly, it only takes five minutes for pizzas to cook in this conveyer oven, so we were able to keep up with the demand.

We had a great experience in this dining unit, and worked with awesome, interesting, helpful people.  We are exploring new areas next week, but are looking forward to coming back to work with them!  It really is awesome to see so many people working so seamlessly together.
We hope everyone has a lovely Memorial Day weekend. I plan to spend it riding my bike around this large campus trying to get oriented!
Stay tuned for more!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

First Real Day.

Hello Everyone!

Today was our first day on the job, apart from the orientation and getting all our paperwork situated. We are now officially employees with UCONN dining services!

This morning we first had our welcome reception at the restaurant, Chuck & Augie's here at UCONN. We had the opportunity to meet a lot of the managers, assistant managers, and other dining services staff, and sample the delicious spread of fresh fruit and pastries provided by the bakery on campus, as well as the staff of the restaurant. Everyone was enthusiastic and eager to work with us, and provide many new opportunities for us. We both are looking forward to the many projects that await us in the future!

Next, we had the opportunity to have a meeting with Dennis Pierce, the Director of Dining Services to go over the history of the dining services here at the University of Connecticut, as well as what we can expect at the NACUFS National Conference in Boston, that we are anxious to attend in July. It is a great opportunity to learn a lot of valuable information and be able to network with the thousands of people attending from across the country. This is also the first time Laura will be visiting the Boston area, which leaves plenty of opportunities to explore.

We also had the chance to tour the dish room here at the South dining hall. Despite being a dish room, the operation of it was interesting to learn about. The machinery is able to grind, cook, and dry all of the compost able material leftover on meal trays, and use it in composting at the farms located on campus. It was cool to learn how sustainable the food operations are, especially since they can serve up to 15,000 in one day! That's a lot of compost!
Working in the dish room

The Hydra-extractor! 



Our last task was to accompany David Barbera (a.k.a Mr. Sir) with forecasting meals using the FoodPro system. This is used to predict how many servings of each food item to prepare in future meals using data collected from last year as well as how many people are predicted to be served. This task was a bit daunting at first, but after a bit of practice it was a lot easier. We will have the opportunity to use this system again when we will develop our themed meal to serve to incoming freshmen students during orientation.
Laura hard at work on FoodPro!

Stay tuned to find out more about our meal and projects to come...

Hope everyone else is enjoying their internships and having plenty of experiences as we are!