Treat students like family. That’s how Front of House Supervisor Caroline Cummins ensures Café Mac is clean, well-stocked and welcoming for about 1,000 students every day. While she spends most of her time running Café Mac from behind the scenes, Cummins can also be found at the Grille taking orders, or at the coffee cart in Janet Wallace serving much-needed caffeine. At times, she has a chance to help out with catering events, which brings a nice change to her regular schedule. In these articles, I hope to bring the work behind Café Mac’s meals to the surface, and put a face to them.
Originally from Virginia, Cummins moved to Minnesota for a semester in St. Paul’s Culinary School. She then headed to Seattle to put her knowledge and skills to use. About a year later, Cummins’ love for St. Paul, despite the frigid winters, brought her back.
Cummins’ fellow Bon Appétit co-workers have recognized her as a wonderful addition to the team due to her positive outlook. Cummins’ optimism allows the managing of the sheer volume of tasks to complete during a busy meal to be less overwhelming. There are sauces to refill, tables to wipe and—most importantly—forks to be cleaned and restocked. Since utensils have to go through several rounds of cleaning during a single meal period, Cummins apologized for the occasional lack of forks. Many Macalester students take these things for granted because it all happens either behind the scenes or amidst the chaos of a busy Café Mac.
Outside of Bon Appetit and Macalester, Cummins life is jam packed with studying for classes at Metro State University, while also planning her wedding which will be in June of this year. After an ecology internship in Virginia, Cummins’ interest led her to further pursue her studies despite a full-time job. Familiar with lectures, homework and school pressures, Cummins doesn’t hesitate to extend kind and comforting words to students who could use them.
Despite a busy schedule, Cummins enjoys her work with Bon Appétit. The values Bon Appétit upholds—ethical and sustainable ingredient sourcing—align with hers. But more importantly, it is the people who help create an atmosphere that not only rewards hard work, but also encourages teamwork. Bon Appétit’s General Manager, Amy Jackson, hopes to help Cummins develop and learn new skills.
Café Mac workers allow students to socialize with friends over food, which is the best kind of socializing in my opinion, while not worrying about prepping, cooking and cleaning. The next time you are sitting in Café Mac, please make an effort to notice the Bon Appétit employees and student workers that put their time and energy behind the food you eat.
And if you see Cummins, don’t hesitate to greet her by name. In return, she will greet you with a positive smile that is much needed in the cold and blinding snow of Minnesota.
Note: Cummins’ favorite Café Mac dish is the paneer masala curry.