The Dining Hall is the sole source of home-cooked meals on Deerfield’s campus. The workers cook tirelessly to feed the entire community three times a day all year. Yet what many don’t know is that planning for the meals begins weeks before they are even cooked and served.
The central authority in planning and preparing for Deerfield’s meals is Michael McCarthy, the Director of Food Services at Deerfield.
Mr. McCarthy’s day starts with emails: responding to vendors, communicating with the campus’s needs from the Dining Hall, and coordinating meals. According to Mr. McCarthy, the work on planning meals starts about three weeks before they are made. It takes correspondence with vendors, communication with the Food Committee, and several other critical steps to start planning for the Deerfield community’s meals.
“There’s a lot of communication that I handle with the community and [within the Dining Hall]. I work with responding … to issues that need immediate attention and other events that need planning,” said Mr. McCarthy.
In addition to the demanding work within the Dining Hall, Mr. McCarthy works on organizing other events around campus. Mr. McCarthy is in charge of coordinating Family Weekend, Trustee Weekend, Prom, and many other events, orchestrating the staffing, decoration, and the catering of all these.
Currently, Mr. McCarthy performs all of these duties while also operating three companies.
Mr. McCarthy runs Riff’s North in Turners Falls, Riff’s Joint and the Hideaway Lounge in Northampton, and a catering business called Myer’s Catering. He incorporates the experience of using healthy and fresh ingredients at his restaurants into helping the Dining Hall put the same-quality food on the Deerfield community’s tables.
“I started my career in the restaurant business. I’ve always wanted to own my restaurant and when an opportunity came up, I took it!” Mr. McCarthy said. “I love food — it is my life. I started with cooking, my mother’s parents owned a restaurant, so that’s how I started: just cooking with my family. I went to business school, but always cooked in between classes and when it came to choosing a career, I decided this is what I love and this is what I want to do.”
Mr. McCarthy is happy to combine his love of food with his love of working at a school like Deerfield.
“I love having kids as customers,” McCarthy said. “It gives me so much energy! There is a positive vibe and excitement and I just catch on to that. Being around young people just keeps you young and interested and I’m always learning from students what they like about food.“
Mr. McCarthy’s love of student energy contributes to his love for his job at Deerfield. Mr. McCarthy summarized, “Part of what I love about Deerfield, and why I’ve been here for 20 years, is that being around students and young people gives me this enthusiasm when I see how active, busy, positive this place is.”
Mr. McCarthy’s passion for Deerfield does not just stop with students. When asked about his favorite memories, Mr. McCarthy leaned back in his chair, reminiscing as he tried to pick the best ones.
“One of my favorite memories is the holiday meal. What I really love is the show of anticipation of that meal that students have.” he reminisced. “Everyone is dressed up holiday-like. We have candles in the dining room and to have everyone come together, whenever I watch that, it just makes me feel like it’s such a special place and it’s really touching.”