Meet Food Service Director (FSD) Brian Hill (pictured back center), who describes himself as “a laid-back guy who has a good time with his team and gets the job done.” Brian started out his culinary career cooking at home with Betty Crocker cookbooks, and then rose through the ranks of McDonald’s from cashier to team leader even before graduating high school. A skilled professional with over 20 years of experience in the industry, Brian’s now the FSD at Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn, MD.
What about SAGE attracted you?
I felt it was a good fit for me to join a company that was growing. The hours were right up my alley. At one point in my life I co-owned a barbeque restaurant—I was never home. It was a dream come true to work Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 4 p.m., to have dinner with my family every night, to actually be in their lives instead of just being a paycheck provider.
What do you like to cook at school?
I’m very lucky to have the variety of options that I do. I have two hot lines, a salad bar, a deli, a full pizza area, and two self-serve warming shelves for sandwiches and fries. My most popular dish is orange chicken served over brown rice with an egg roll. Forty percent of the kids choose it—they go crazy for it.
How do you keep things interesting in the dining hall?
I’ve been trying some new things: a nacho bar; crab cakes; homemade pancakes with bacon, home fries, and a piece of sausage. If the kids say to me, “Can we try this?” if we have a recipe for it, I’ll do it.
What kinds of dishes do you cook at home?
On a cold day, I’ll go to the store to buy the ingredients for some different soups and chowders, and then get some really nice cheeses and make grilled cheese sandwiches and soups—you know, little finger things where you can sit back and watch football with your friends and you don’t have to worry about anything.
Can you share a cooking success story?
My neighbor’s son asked me to cook his celebratory dinner when he graduated from high school. I was honored. He wanted something crazy—a deep-fried pork loin stuffed with crab-and-gouda macaroni and cheese. So I did it, and it turned out to be absolutely amazing. The best part is that the power went out halfway through. I plated up a dinner for 17 people with a cell phone flashlight.
What’s your philosophy on teamwork?
I like to keep my head, smile, and composure about myself. I make sure that my team knows I’m there for them. Whatever issues or problems we might have, we’re going to get through it together.
If you could take on any role at SAGE, what would it be?
My perfect job at SAGE would be to train all new Managers, to be at every school that opens and be with a Manager for a week or two and train them step by step. I’d love to build a training guide, and to lead a small training team that goes to every school to make sure that all the binders and production sheets are set, that everybody knows what’s expected, and that every Manager’s trained the same way.