Staff Profile: Chef Andy Schultz
Most Aquinas students can easily recall memorable evenings in Wege Cafeteria. It has become a place for many to refuel, de-stress, and be with friends when life has become consumed with classes and studying. Food is one of the quintessential elements of a student’s overall college experience, and its quality is of chief concern at Aquinas. In collaboration with Creative Dining Services, Aquinas College welcomed Chef Andy Schultz as the new Executive Chef for AQ dining services in February 2013. Schultz brings a passion for the culinary arts and a vision of quality food for students.
Cooking has always been part of Schultz’s life. His parents met while in culinary school - the same school where he would later meet his wife. “I’ve been in the business my whole life,” he said. “My first birthday present was a French knife (which is what most chefs use for utility knives and everyday use). My dad tried to talk me out of it, but it worked out well, and I’ve been enjoying it ever since. Wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”
A native to Michigan’s west side, Schultz originally hails from Lowell. He attended culinary school at age 17, immediately after high school, and was the youngest student in culinary school at that time. After earning an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts, he and his wife moved to Hawaii for a two-year internship. Upon its completion they moved to Colorado, where Schultz served as a chef with Creative Dining Services for a time, before eventually transferring to Aquinas and returning to his Michigan home.
Coming to Aquinas, Schultz said that his experience so far has been extremely positive. “It’s been great, a lot of good challenges and new ideas,” he said. “Every day is a new challenge, which is something I was looking for when I came back to Michigan and Aquinas.”
Especially important to Schultz is his vision of bringing healthy, local food products to the Aquinas community. Too often college food is stereotyped as unhealthy calorie-fests, yet Schultz wants to change this negative perception through presenting students with fresh alternatives. “I just like to bring in fresh, local ingredients,” he said. “Ninety percent of the ingredients for dishes we provide in the kitchen are from scratch. I can tell a difference, and the students and clients we’re serving can tell the difference from more pre-made products as well. We went to the student body last semester, and that was one of the things they wanted to see. So we provided it, and it’s been well-received, which is great! We’re trying to introduce new products and ingredients to the students than they’re used to growing up with - so one could see this as a bit of education they can take with them for the rest of their lives.”
This mission for a better dining experience has been highly collaborative. Schultz sees input from students, faculty, and staff as very important, and their support as crucial to overall success. Consequently, he encouraged all to take part in the process. “Don’t be afraid to come to me about any concerns, comments or suggestions. I take feedback well, I’m open to anything and am willing to try anything that will go well here, at Wege, Brookby, or any of our other events. So, fill out the comment cards! Email me! And I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”