Behind the Scenes at Paresky Commons

Dodging faculty children and students rushing to grab a slice of pizza between classes, Niuston Marmolejos, Food Service Supervisor at Paresky Commons, strolls from station to station to ensure that the food is fresh and well-prepared. Having worked at Andover since 1991, Marmolejos said that he has stayed at Andover for the past 24 years because he loves working with food and making students happy. “I make the students feel comfortable, feel like they’re home and feel like they can come up to me and ask me questions,” said Marmolejos in an interview with The Phillipian. “I like what I do. I’m a happy guy… I’m passionate about food and I’m passionate about what I do here at [Andover].” Marmolejos is one of approximately 80 staff members who work at Paresky Commons for Aramark, an award-winning food services company. The types of jobs around Paresky include preparing food, cleaning the dining halls, restocking the salad bar, filling the juice machines and carving fruit and vegetables into elaborate decorations, among various other duties. Hailing from Lawrence, Mass., Miguel Angilo covers all four kitchens with a focus on the lower skillets. During lunch and dinner he can be found behind the stir-fry counter, sizzling chicken and vegetables while chatting with students as they wait in line for stir-fry. “I like customer service; I like to be nice to everybody and be helpful,” he said. Angilo especially enjoys making breakfast omelets for the students in the morning, and he hopes to one day own a restaurant, where he will be a breakfast chef. At Paresky, staff members are assigned jobs based on their training, although there are many opportunities for staff members to switch roles during their careers, said Mike Giampa, the Food Service Director and Sustainability Coordinator of Paresky Commons. “For example, we have a dishwasher right now who wants to learn how to cook. So he does his regular job of doing the dishes, and when he is not busy, the chef [trains him to cook]. Right now he is starting by cutting vegetables, since that is where most people start. You learn how to cut vegetables, then you learn how to make soup… it is a step-by-step process. We do a lot of that with our employees,” said Giampa. The planning and preparing of the food takes a lot of time, work and thought, Giampa said. Menus are carefully planned out a month before by the chef, the food service directors and staff members. “We use a production system called PRIMA to plan all of our menus and help us with ordering, inventory, recipes and production. We don’t get up one day and say we’re going to have chicken tomorrow. It is planned ahead [of time]. It is a four-week cycle, and that is how we do our menu engineering,” said Giampa. The food itself, however, is usually prepped the day before and cooked the day it is served in order to maintain freshness. Proteins or any other products that need to be stored under 40 degrees Fahrenheit are kept in one of the walk-in refrigerators and pulled out for use the next day. David Florencio, who has only worked at Paresky Commons for the last eight months, has already found a home cooking dinner in the Upper Left kitchen. Florencio used to work at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Lowell. He said that he prefers working at Andover to working at UMass Lowell. “Everything [here] is different. It’s more organized, and we have better, healthier food here. [At UMass,] there are more hamburgers and hot dogs. I enjoy working here,” said Florencio. In addition, for special events including cluster dinners, Mixed Heritage Awareness Week and Latin Arts Weekend, the Paresky staff frequently works with different student groups and faculty members to coordinate themed meals. “All of the special meals, we plan with the student groups. I like to do it a couple of weeks before the dinner itself so that gives us time to do some research and bring in all the food. It is still prepared the same way; we prep it the day before and cook it that day and night,” said Giampa. Aramark has been working with Phillips Academy since 1991 to provide healthy meals for students and faculty in Paresky Commons. The workers at Aramark work in shifts throughout the day: the morning and dinner food service shifts last from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., respectively, the maintenance staff members work from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. and the Susie’s staff members have separate shifts that follow the Andover students’ schedule and curfew.