Campus food maestros combine to plan and serve thousands of healthy and delicious meals everyday


Amy Halvorson

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Campus food maestros combine to plan and serve thousands of healthy and delicious meals everyday

With a pinch of knowledge, a dash of passion, a teaspoon of diversity, seasoned with excellence, mixed together and garnished with flavor you have the recipe for the University of North Dakota’s chef team.

The UND chefs cook up a storm to feed more than 3,000 students each day. They work together to create new and exciting dishes for students to try and prove they’re worth their salt.

Gregory Gefroh has the pleasure of being the executive chef at UND ? or in other words, the big enchilada.

Gefroh attended Northwestern Technical College (now Minnesota State Technical College) Culinary Arts Program and was French classically trained, but baking is where his heart truly lies.

“I just love the science of baking,” said Gefroh.

His father once gave him some food for thought by telling him “if you can cook, you’ll never starve.”

Gefroh started his culinary career when he was 14-years old in Devils Lake, N.D., at the Happy Hour Café, an eatery owned by next door neighbors.

“I think when you start that way, you really learn respect for each position,” Gefroh said.

Since then, he has worked at an array of restaurants while making his way up the culinary ladder.

Variety is the spice of life, and Gefroh gets inspiration from the people he serves.

“We have students from all over the world that come here, and they all want a taste of home,” he said.

Gefroh is responsible for all culinary units at UND, including three dining centers, two snack bars, three convenience stores, two coffee shops a food court and a central bakery.

On a typical day, Gefroh will go through all of the UND dining centers and check in with the cooks to see how their day is going and troubleshoot any problems that arise. He will then work on some office tasks and then repeat the steps for lunch.

“I’m a firm believer in doing everything from scratch,” he said. “And by doing that, you can control everything that goes into a dish and make it healthier.”

Gefroh also inspects the bakery and checks the quality of the products, which is no piece of cake since UND offers a trans-fat-free bakery.

“I really strive to reduce the amount of convenience products on campus,” he said.

Gefroh has worked at UND for 11 years. Currently, he’s also a student, going for his bachelor’s degree in community and nutrition.

Gefroh says he likes Indian food the best.

“I like the way its combines onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeno peppers with different spice blends to make food more flavorful,” he said.

Molly Christianson

Molly Christianson works as a Sous Chef in the Wilkerson and Squires Dining Centers.

She attended Le Cordon Bleu, where she received an applied associate’s degree in culinary art.

Baking, along with decorating and garnishing, are Christianson’s bread and butter.

Before coming to UND, Christianson, who’s originally from Minneapolis, helped prepare meals for the Minnesota Wild hockey team.

Christianson has worked at UND for more than five years, starting as a baker and working her way to sous chef. Cooking started at a young age for her. She enjoyed watching her father, who also was a chef, prepare meals.

“I started cooking and it became such a bond between my dad and I,” said Christianson. “It went from being a hobby to a passion.”

Christianson finds that her family is what inspires her when she’s in the kitchen. She incorporates what she does at home into her work at UND.

“Preparing meals that please kids, yet are healthy, is challenging, but I like the challenge,” she says.

Christianson takes the cake when it comes to interacting with the students.

“Work is never repetitive, and that’s what I like about it,” said Christianson said.

Since becoming a sous chef, Christianson had the opportunity to travel to the University of Massachusetts for a culinary conference where her team competed in the “Iron Chef” battle, and took second place. Her team was also awarded the “Campbell’s Golden Ladle Award” for incorporating Campbell’s soup products into their menu.

James DeHaan

DeHaan, is a UND alumnus, who graduated in 2004 with a degree in theoretical mathematics.

However, a month before graduation, DeHaan decided that he could have his cake and eat it too, and made the decision to go on to culinary school.

DeHaan attended Le Cordon Bleu and is French classically trained, specializing in southern French Cajun cuisine. He’s currently the sous chef at Terrace Dining Center at UND.

“Just about everyone in my family works with food,” said DeHaan. “It was what I grew up with.”

When it comes to food, DeHaan loves how food brings people together.

Each year, he and his cousins compete in a cooking competition, finding new ways to prepare smoked-chicken meals each year at their family reunion.

DeHaan started his culinary career by wanting to alter recipes to make things more convenient, but in the more recent years, he has switched over to long-term cooking. He particularly enjoys smoking meats and vegetables.

“I always want to try new things and make them better,” he said.

He also tries to create a fun environment for student employees in the dining centers.

“Being a chef has changed a lot over the past ten years,” he said. “Due to the Food Network, people have more of a general knowledge of cooking,” DeHaan said. “I strive to be able to explain what’s going wrong and how to do it better.”

Amy Halvorson University & Public Affairs student writer

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