Erin Still is SAGE's newly-promoted Director of Menu Development. Well-known for the delicious snacks she prepares at the Home Office (including a tart, creamy Key lime pie, which I sampled thoroughly in the interest of journalistic integrity), Erin began working at SAGE almost nine years ago as a Food Service Director (FSD) at schools in Baltimore. She then served as Purchasing Manager before being promoted to her current position. Read on to learn more about Erin!
How did you end up in the dining services industry?
My great-grandmother owned a restaurant—Jo's Lunch— in Newport, RI. My grandmother and my mother were both great cooks, and some of my earliest memories are cooking with them. I was never traditionally trained, but I've been cooking my whole life. I worked in a local restaurant in high school. Later on, I worked at some of the best restaurants in Baltimore—Gertrude's at the BMA, Hamilton's at the Admiral Fell Inn, the late great Brass Elephant. I worked hard, developed my craft alongside great people, and sought opportunities to challenge myself, and it brought me to SAGE. Since I started here, I've been a testament to SAGE's practice of promoting from within. I've been given so many opportunities to grow.
What do you do as Director of Menu Development?
Because it's a new position, I'm still working out all of my responsibilities. Currently, I'm going through our recipe database to make sure that each recipe is delicious, easy to follow, and up to our rigorous standards for fresh, wholesome ingredients.
As someone who's seen it firsthand, how do you think SAGE makes a difference in students' lives?
Of all the things I've done for a living, feeding kids is my favorite. There's instant gratification. You can see the tangible effects of your work, and they're so thankful. It's such a great experience to see kids over-the-moon excited, oohing and ahhing about the little touches like the citrus slices in our Spa Water. As a child, I had breakfast at home, brought my lunch to school, and went home for dinner. It's different now. A lot of kids eat most of their daily meals at our locations. We play a much bigger role in their lives than we sometimes realize.
I'm sure everyone asks, but I have to know—what's your favorite recipe?
I can't settle on just one because I'm trying new things all the time—some are great, some are flops. Once, I made giant “monster” hamburgers inspired by the Red Robin® across the street from our boys' school. I only made 20 because I didn't think they'd sell, but I sold out within half an hour. It was such a rush!
You have two kids of your own—do they ever join in and cook with you?
All the time! I'm making meatballs with my eight-year-old now, just like my mom did with me. My ten-year-old's learning to make omelets. The other day, she made a raspberry whipped cream... she's my little gourmand!
I've always wanted to ask a chef. When you go on vacation, do you eat out, or do you cook?
We're a very relaxed family, so we tend to rent a house by the lake and unplug during vacation. We usually eat in. I actually travel with a box of kitchen utensils—cutting board, knives, measuring cups, spoons. Nothing worse than having great food on hand, but no way to prep it.
Many thanks to Erin for sharing her story with us. Stay tuned for more Team Member One-on-Ones!