Meet SAGE Team Member Derrik Young! He was recently recognized by Food Management as one of the 21 K-12 food service directors and general managers in the United States who’ve made a difference over the past year. He was chosen from more than 400 nominations and has been with SAGE for almost nine years. He’s currently an on-call Cook at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but he was highlighted for his work as Food Service Director at Silverdale Baptist Academy, where he worked for nearly seven years until May 2022.
We caught up with Derrik to chat about his food service career and why he enjoys working at SAGE.
What do you love about your job and your community?
I love the day-to-day interaction with both my peers and the community and being able to build relationships and network with such a variety of people.
How did you get started in the food service industry?
I got my start during my freshman year of college. I had moved to Atlanta to attend school for a bachelor’s degree in illustration and design, and a job at a corporate chain restaurant was the first/quickest way I was able to help pay the bills. I started out bussing tables and doing light food prep; from there, I moved into the dish pit. The dish position allowed me more time to jump onto the cooking line and learn. I was promoted to a line cook and quickly learned all of the positions. And the rest is history. I changed my major to food and beverage management, and here we are today.
What’s your favorite thing about working for SAGE?
The opportunity to have a work-life balance. A schedule of this nature is rare in this industry, although the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath have altered this quite a bit. Hopefully, things will continue to level out going forward.
Do you enjoy cooking off the clock? What do you do in your spare time?
I honestly don’t do a ton of off-the-clock cooking at the moment. The occasional dinners throughout the week and some holiday favorites from time to time, but my wife does a great job at handling the majority of home cooking to help change up the pace. I do like to get the smoker up and going from time to time though. I spend a lot of my spare time enjoying the outdoors. You can find me many weekends on the water fishing in local tournaments or out exploring with my wife in the Jeep.
What’s your favorite kind of cuisine and/or dish to prepare?
As mentioned previously, I’ve really taken a liking to barbecue and smoked meats. There’s something about the accomplishment of a tasty, 10-hour meat that keeps me intrigued.
What are your tips for helping your team run smoothly?
My ultimate tip for keeping the team going would be to make sure that you’re a part of that team. Don’t get too caught up in the paperwork and responsibility of it all. Become a daily participant in the prep and production of your kitchen. You’ll become closer with your team and also have a better understanding of what they accomplish on a daily basis. Servant leadership creates an environment based on teamwork and input versus an environment based on an exercise of power.
Food Management isn’t the only one who thinks Derrik’s great! District Manager Chris Frick nominated Derrik and had this to say about him:
Becoming part of a client community can be difficult in contract food service, but Derrik Young makes it look easy. When he’s not writing menus or coordinating a smooth lunch service for 1,200 students daily, Derrik volunteers his time with the school’s outdoor education department, working with the fishing and outdoors program. Derrik also does a guest reading of ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ for the lower school, something the students request each year. And when the school hosted a grand opening event for their new sports and fine arts complex, Derrik and his team catered the event for 200 guests — including local government and city council members — while simultaneously providing regular lunch service for the students.