Hospitality is important at Fresh Ideas and we believe that the key to excellent guest service is getting to know each person that walks through the door at our dining locations. We also recognize diversity as one of our key company values and its influence in the culinary world. Warm hospitality and celebrating diversity create an environment where everyone feels cared for and engaged. Our chefs strive to create food that brings people together, reminds them of home, and introduces them to new flavors. We know that providing the best dining experience starts with getting to know our guests.
Carl Plastow, Director of Dining Services at Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU), and Gren Rodricks, Director of Dining Services at Midland University, both host international meals and events at their schools that provide a personal dining experience for their guests. What once started as a special dining meal held a few times a year at the schools has turned into a regular and highly anticipated event for students.
At DWU, Chef Carl partners with international students to collaborate on meals from their respective countries and culture. They work together to recreate a meal that is special to them and one which they wish to share with fellow students. The international students often stand at the serving line, educating diners on the main entrée and where the food comes from. One student from Germany even took out his guitar to sing a few German songs as students enjoyed their meals. Another student called his mom to show her how close the meal came to their family recipe. DWU’s international students get to enjoy familiar food from home while other students get excited to try new dishes.
At Midland University, Chef Gren is a friendly and familiar face for students on campus. He gets to know his guests and asks for special meal requests. For international students or those far from home, he asks them what their favorite comfort food is and how he can recreate it to help them feel at home. During meal preparation, he takes time to meet with students and taste test food to ensure the flavors are perfect. “It’s not just about making good food; it’s about making the students feel included in making that food.”
Gren and Carl get requests for a variety of different foods from around the world but say their students enjoy Indian, Puerto Rican, and Mexican food most often. The students enjoy getting to try authentic food and learning about the food’s origins.
Gren is familiar with a wide variety of cuisines. Having lived in and cooked in India, the Middle East, London, and the United States, he has learned many different cooking techniques. Gren and Carl enjoy the challenge of learning to prepare new and different flavors and cuisines. Not only do Carl and Gren enjoy providing delicious homecooked meals for their guests, but they also try to give back to their communities as often as possible. Gren is passionate about fighting food insecurity and takes time to visit his local food pantry where he provides food and cooks with families and people from all walks of life. He and Carl often donate food to various local shelters.
At Fresh Ideas, we understand the importance of supporting our communities and giving back to them whenever we can. Fresh Ideas celebrated World Food Day on Sunday, October 16th. This is a day dedicated to bringing awareness to the importance of providing access to nutritious food to everyone around the world.
Chefs Carl and Gren exemplify warm hospitality at its finest and embrace diversity throughout their respective dining programs. Their passion for serving guests and serving others in their communities is a cause for celebration at Fresh Ideas throughout the year.