This month's Member Spotlight features David Lees, Executive Dining Administrator at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. David answered several questions for us.
What is the biggest challenge you face in business?
Meeting or exceeding customers' value expectations, while striving to continually raise the bar on service and quality.
The growing demand for sustainability in the front of the house (from the customer) and in the back of the house (from the client or business owner). However, as more and more people who identify themselves as "foodies" enter the workforce, local, fresh, healthy and authentic products remain paramount.
How have you seen the association grow and change since you joined in 2006?
Since I have attended SFM networking and educational events more frequently in recent years, I have seen a snowball effect from increased networking opportunities to share best practices. Also SFM has become increasing agile at offering learning opportunities that are on the leading edge of current product, equipment and technology trends.
What advice do you have for young foodservice professionals who are considering entering the onsite/non-commercial foodservice realm?
I recently listened to Anthony Bourdain provide advice for those entering the culinary world, which was basically: there has never been more global opportunity for those who have passion, but expectations have also never been higher from the consumer.
For onsite/non-commercial foodservice that advice is very applicable. While in the early stages of a career a breadth of experience (in various segments of the foodservice industry) can be very important, so I would advise against focusing too heavily on any one segment. So, I would advise a young person (who possess that passion) to go for it, and be prepared for the hours and commitment needed because you'll need to love what you do in order to have longevity in the industry.
What other duties or hospitality services do you oversee and how can SFM help you balance these responsibilities while keeping foodservice in focus?
Within DECS (Dining, Events, and Conference Services) at the NY Fed we are currently increasing standardization and the "one - stop - shop" model for all conferencing across the district. SFM is an invaluable resource due to the ideas we gain from members and the site visits we can arrange to see concepts first hand. For the customers of DECS however, food remains the #1 "satisfier."
What and where was the best meal you have ever had?
Let me narrow it down to the best lunch I had this year. I was at the Mitsitam Cafe in the Museum of the American Indian (in DC). A House Ground Buffalo and Duck Burger with Green Chilies and Aged Cheddar.