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Archive for Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mrs. E’s serves up thousands of meals daily for students

August 19, 2012

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When Mrs. E’s general manager Mark Maranell gets to work in the morning, he first touches base with staff and checks on breakfast. He deals with any issues from the previous night’s meal and then begins to prepare for the future.

Mark Maranell has 20 years of experience with KU dinning services and is currently the manager of Mrs. E's the Ekdahl Dining Commons located atop Daisy Hill. The food-court specializes in variety with pasta, salads, sandwiches, pizza, and grilled items with 700 seats on three levels.

Mark Maranell has 20 years of experience with KU dinning services and is currently the manager of Mrs. E's the Ekdahl Dining Commons located atop Daisy Hill. The food-court specializes in variety with pasta, salads, sandwiches, pizza, and grilled items with 700 seats on three levels.

Tons of stuff to eat

With more than 3,200 students to feed daily, Mrs. E’s orders tons of food each year:

Hamburgers: 20,280 pounds

Shredded mozzarella: 17,700 pounds

Tomatoes: 17,575 pounds

Chicken tenders: 15,900 pounds

Romaine lettuce: 11,500 pounds

Fresh strawberries: 3,600 pounds

Ketchup: 24,000 gallons

Ranch dressing: 960 gallons

Preparation is an important part of the job for every person on staff at Mrs. E’s, especially considering they serve more than 3,200 students per day during the academic year.

Maranell said Mrs. E’s serves more than 30 recipe items each day, so to make a proper amount of food, the staff must make some educated assumptions on how much of each menu item students will consume and then have it ready by the time the dining hall opens.

“The staff of a facility are really the unsung heroes. They have three deadlines to meet with quality and quantity and we just couldn’t do without them,” Sheryl Kidwell, assistant director of KU dining services, said.

The work to feed students begins with Maranell creating a menu.

Mrs. E’s uses a computerized menu management system to store recipes and create menus. Maranell selects recipes from a collection of over 3,000 to put on the menu, and the menus are put on a five-week rotation.

“I try to make sure we have a good variety of popular items, of health items and not too much repetition,” Maranell said.

Popular items include hamburgers and chicken tenders. Mrs. E’s uses more than 10 tons of hamburgers and 8 tons of chicken tenders a year.

No matter the amount of menu planning and preparation, there are sometimes problems that arise in the dining hall.

There have been power outages on Daisy Hill as well as water line breaks in front of Lewis Hall. and it is Maranell’s job to find a way to still feed students.

“We try to figure out what we can do and if there’s some way we can meet part of that need rather than not meet it at all,” Maranell said.

Serving a meal when there is an issue like a power outage means making sack lunches for students and the staff being flexible with the menu, but dining services is dedicated to making the students they feed happy.

“The customer is No. 1, and we understand that and work to make important decisions on their behalf,” Kidwell said.

— Staff intern Meagan Thomas can be reached at 832-6342.

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