SOCORRO, N.M., Aug. 5, 2008 — Curtis Ortiz, the director of dining services on New Mexico Tech campus received the Director of the Year award from Chartwells. He arrived in the summer of 2007 to manage the campus dining facilities and since then has positively impacted the quality and service. Chartwells operates 400 dining facilities.
Chartwells has been serving New Mexico Tech students since 1998. In mid-2006, the dining hall moved into the new Fidel Student Services Center, and the food service and quality has dramatically improved.
“With Curtis, we’ve seen our cafeteria flourish with a wide variety of food choices to meet the needs of our students and Tech employees,” said Louise Chamberlin, Director of Auxiliary Services.
Ortiz was recognized for meeting financial goals, maintaining exceptional culinary standards and high overall customer satisfaction. Chamberlin said he empowers his staff and buys quality food. Sean Weed, head chef, and his cooking staff have been creative in offering new and unique dishes that are both pleasant to the particular tastes of students.
“Recognition and development are critical to building a culture where people feel satisfied and take pride in their work,” Ortiz said.
He said he values treating people well and that empowering his staff makes them feel better about themselves, which leads to superior services for customers.
“Both Sean and Curtis work very well with the team in the cafeteria. We’re lucky to have them both here at Tech,” Chamberlin said. “They go the extra mile to help students meet their dietary needs.”
Ortiz’s success in Socorro helped Chartwells earn a contract at the University of New Mexico. Ortiz said UNM officials visited Socorro and were impressed with the Chartwells’ service and offerings.
Recently, Ortiz has made efforts to offer healthier foods. Vegetarians and health-conscious individuals are seeing their requests of special foods — veggie-burgers, soy milk and fresh fruits — appear in the cafeteria on a regular basis.
In addition to improving dining service, Ortiz has led the effort to implement a sustainability program. Un-eaten food is donated to a pig farm recycling program; used cooking oil is sold to biodiesel manufacturers; and biodegradable plates and cups are made available for customers.
“We care about the environment and I’m happy to see that our cafeteria offers these new sustainability programs for our community,” Chamberlin said.
Future plans for Chartwells include expanding the offerings at the coffee shop. Ortiz said he plans to hire a new supervisor to oversee coffee shop operations and enhance their offerings. Those offerings include adding chips and candy bars to their shelves, and fully maintain their refrigerated shelves with food and drink.
Ortiz said he appreciates any new suggestions for the cafeteria and coffee shop and welcome any comments about their dining services. Both can be found regularly working in the Fidel dining room. In addition, Chamberlin says she welcomes comments about Chartwells and she can be found on the second floor of Fidel Center in the Auxiliary Services office.