The man behind the meal

TDR Mastermind: General Manager Jack Cahill

Ever wondered who controls what you eat in the Terrace Dining Room? Or who gave AU students the gift of the waffle irons? Or who decides what food at the Comfort Zone will wrap you in reminiscences of Mom's cooking?

Meet Jack Cahill, the general manager of TDR and an employee of Bon Appetit, the food service corporation that handles dining for AU and more than 60 colleges nationwide. Though Cahill only joined AU on July 1, he already knows a lot about students' dining habits and how much it costs to feed campus.

"We are spending about $90,000 a week on food," Cahill said. The most popular station in TDR is the grill, which cranks out hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken and grilled cheese. Cahill said the grill is "a bit overwhelmed" by student demand, so he hopes to expand the grill section in the future.

AU is not the first cafeteria Cahill has headed up. Originally from Boston and New York, he worked at his alma mater, the State University of New York at Plattsburg, as well as Harvard, Oberlin College, Bentley College, Emerson College and Texas A & M. Students' food preferences at Texas A & M stand in contrast to AU, which has a significant vegan population.

"Texas A & M eats a lot of chicken fried steak and country gravy. Everything else comes in a tortilla," Cahill said. Also, the arid Texas climate made the A & M dining hall dangerous at times.

"The nastiest thing I saw in the dining hall was a scorpion," Cahill said, adding that the insect was not cooked and served.

Cahill's duties include managing the Farm to Fork program, which brings the organically grown produce from a Virginia farm to TDR. The point is to bring local farmers produce to market and bypass large middlemen, Cahill said. The result is food that is very fresh and unprocessed.

Cahill also tries to make himself available to the students in TDR.

"I try to make a point to be out and available during the afternoon and evening meals," Cahill said. He also handles the compliment and complaint cards available in TDR's foyer.

"Getting feedback from the students is very important," said Cahill. Besides trying to keep TDR running smoothly, Cahill enjoys photography, playing competitive bridge and keeping a reef aquarium. He lives in Maryland with his wife and two daughters, ages nine and five.

Cahill's favorite station in TDR is the Azuki station, which has shifted this year from Chinese to Japanese food. Another aspect of TDR will also experience a shift-Cahill is bringing back breakfast foods served during lunch hours. But the most exciting changes will be in the famously popular waffles, Cahill said.

"The waffles are going to have Clawed's head on them," he said.

The real question: will AU students be ready to digest school spirit?

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