Meet SAGE Food Service Director Hope Walker! She’s been with SAGE for 23 years, all at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland. She was recently recognized by Food Management as one of 30 Foodservice Heroes, chosen from more than 400 nominations across the country, for going beyond the call of duty and demonstrating the best of the onsite dining community.
We chatted with Hope to talk about her food service career and why she enjoys working at SAGE.
What do you love about your job and your community?
The best part of my job is feeling the excitement at lunch. The students are so excited to see their favorite meals on the menu. I love this community because of their warmth and kindness. They consider SAGE Team Members as part of their family.
How did you get started in the food service industry?
I started by learning about food from my grandmother. Many years ago, I first started in the fast-food industry. From there, I went into the healthcare setting doing patient meals and working in the cafeteria.
What’s your favorite thing about working for SAGE?
I love being a SAGE Manager because of the training and learning new things. I enjoy going to The Institute [SAGE’s companywide conference held every 18 months] and meeting new people. It’s nice to work for a company that’s constantly growing.
Do you enjoy cooking off the clock? What do you do in your spare time?
I do enjoy cooking in my spare time. I love to travel; I wish I could work part-time and travel the world. Reading is also a passion of mine.
What’s your favorite kind of cuisine and/or dish to prepare?
My favorite cuisine is Carribean cooking. In my circle, I’m known as the ‘Jerk Pork Queen.’ I’m also fascinated by Italian cuisine. I’d like to think that I’m mastering that slowly.
What are your tips for helping your team run smoothly?
I encourage my staff by interacting with them individually and encouraging them to make our team great.
District Manager Kevin Mitchell, who nominated Hope for the honor, also had this to say about her:
With the food service industry facing unprecedented turnover rates, it’s not often we see chefs spending an entire career at a single venue. Hope Walker is the exception. Since starting with SAGE in 1999, Hope has developed solid and long-lasting relationships with the community at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Maryland. In her time at Stone Ridge, Hope has developed enduring relationships with thousands of students. She notes having had the honor of watching Olympic gold-medal swimmer Katie Ledecky grow and excel throughout her time at Stone Ridge.
Hope’s passion for food shows every day when feeding 800 students and is evident in her team mentality; she frequently travels to area SAGE schools to lend a hand with big events. She shares her passion for Jamaican cuisine with the Stone Ridge community and enjoys being able to feature flavorful Jamaican dishes on the menu. Hope’s heart and soul is Stone Ridge!