BYU hires new dining boss

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    By CARRIE WILLIAMS

    Like the Energizer Bunny, the list of accomplishments and enthusiasm of the new BYU food director keeps going and going.

    Dean Wright, a graduate of BYU, is returning with 23 years of experience and ideas to lead BYU to the top in dining services.

    “We feel very fortunate to get a man with his commitment and background,” said Alton Wade, student life vice president.

    Wright is leaving his current position as director of food services at Utah State University to come to Provo. He also was director of food services at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio; BYU Hawaii and the College of Eastern Utah in Price. In addition, he held managing positions at Pennsylvania State University and with Saga Food Services.

    Last year, Wright was the national president of The National Association of College and University Food Services. He was the first ever to be elected from the Rocky Mountain region.

    As BYU dining director, he will oversee all the food services associated with the university. This includes the residence halls, Wilkinson Center, dairy lab, meat plant, Catering, Sky Room Restaurant, Creamery and two additional stores at Wymount Terrace and the new trailer housing facilities.

    Wright said he is concerned with recognizing trends and adapting appropriately.

    “The image of campus dining has changed. Hair nets and big ladles are not acceptable anymore,” Wright said.

    It used to be that working in a dining hall was the last place people wanted to work, Wright said. Now, with the image changing, it is easier to hire more qualified employees. Hiring the right student mix contributes to the entertainment concept of dining, Wright said.

    “BYU has a true commitment to having a campus environment and being pro-active for the overall learning experience,” Wright said.

    One current trend is preparing more food in front of the customer and letting the customer finish it off with spices, Wright said.

    For example, when serving stir-fry instead of dishing it out from a steam pan, it could be served from the actual wok, he said. When serving beef it is more appetizing when the customer can see it sliced, Wright said.

    “It’s the small finishing experiences that will put BYU a level above,” Wright said.

    Providing non-fat entrees on a more consistent basis as well as vegetarian choices will be a focus, Wright said.

    However, Wright does not underestimate the importance of one’s taste buds. “Taste explosion. We all want flavor,” Wright said.

    Another current trend is providing variety. It is not only Mexican food or Asian food now, but it is food associated with individual countries. “Each country has a different flavor,” Wright said.

    Students will be pleased with the variety in the Wilkinson Center’s Cougareat, which is expected to open in August, said Dean Fairbank, associate vice president for Student Life.

    In addition to Taco Bell, Subway, Pizza Hut and KFC, there will be a hamburger spot that will offer only freshly made hamburgers and fries. Fairbanks said it will be a spin-off of In-N-Out Burger fast food restaurants.

    Alton said, responding to current trends, Zuka Juice will be available by the Varsity Theater.

    Wright said, “A major plus for BYU is that the food auxiliary is looked at as a service.”

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