By Rain Ji ’19
Meals are a significant part of our lives. At home, maybe you order take out, or your parents cook something for you to eat, but at The Gunnery, we rely heavily on the Dining Hall. It prepares us three meals a day from Monday to Saturday, and brunch and dinner on Sundays. Currently, the FLIK dining company provides services for The Gunnery.
FLIK’s slogan is “nourishing a brighter future.” We were able to sit down with J.R. Wilson, the Dining Hall supervisor, who has been working for FLIK since August 2017. Before coming to The Gunnery at the same time, he worked for Rumsey Hall School for around 20 years. Mr. Wilson has been in the food service industry for over 43 years. At The Gunnery, he oversees the operations of the entire Dining Hall, as well as the Cafe on the Green.
According to Mr. Wilson, FLIK does not have a standard menu. Instead, each school has its own menu based on the likes and dislikes of the students. In addition to the school’s preferences, budgetary concerns and feedback from the student body are also taken into account. “We try to build our menu around sustainable and local products,” said Mr. Wilson. “Most of our products come from Sardilli Company (Hartford, Conn.), and they source a lot of local farms.”
The Dining Hall started buying products from Sardilli beginning last June. In 2018 alone, The Gunnery purchased 3577 pounds of locally grown products. The Sardilli Produce & Dairy has been around since 1955 in Southington, Conn. Now the farm is in its third generation and is run by brothers Devin and Jason Sardilli. They are following in their father’s footsteps by combining excellent service and quality at a reasonable price. Sardilli builds a network for local farmers to bring locally grown products to different parts of the state.
Even though most people take the Dining Hall for granted, the truth is the staff works extremely hard on a daily basis to make sure that we are properly fed. They have to balance the menu; prepare main courses, soups, and desserts, in addition to setting up the salad bar; and clean dishes and silverware. When inclement weather hits, some members of the Dining Hall staff spend the night in the Health Center to make sure that breakfast is prepared on time.
Although many students have developed friendships with some of the Dining Hall staff members, there are a lot of people that work behind the scenes. In an effort to connect students with the Dining Hall staff, The Highlander talked with a few members of the staff.
Shenel is probably the most commonly recognized Dining Hall staff member. She has been working at The Gunnery for eight years and is originally from Long Beach, Calif. Her favorite Dining Hall food is the green spinach soup and she loves working in the Dining Hall because of the students.
Mark has worked at The Gunnery for the past six years and he is originally from Bethlehem, Conn. He enjoys tater tots in the Dining Hall, and his favorite part of The Gunnery is the students.
Ronny began working at the school over a year ago. He’s a native of Waterbury, Conn., he enjoys Chinese stir fry and he feels satisfied feeding students.
Tom has worked at the dining hall for five and a half years. He lived in Chicago and Southbury, Conn. He loves Hawaiian pizza and enjoys the sense of camaraderie among the staff.