Michael Berry: Mealtime Messiah
Michael Berry is the man who brought Deli Day to Harvard. Berry is the architect of the hamburger option. And Berry, recently appointed director of dining services, is the one who dumped fish pizziola from the menu.
In just four months, Harvard's new food czar has won the hearts of the College's student body like no administrator in recent memory. It has been nothing less than a food revolution.
"I think he's done a stupendous job in a short period of time," says Thomas A. Dingman '67, associate dean for human resources and the Houses. "He's done some wonderfully creative things."
When Berry took office in January, he said his game plan was simple: give his customers the most quality options of food as possible. And since Harvard higher-ups' only restriction on Berry is that he stay within a $20 million budget, he says that there's an endless amount of creativity to be tapped.
Berry has initiated special theme days such as Ballpark Day, when HDS employees served up franks, peanuts and popcorn, and Deli Day, when students were treated to fresh corned beef and pastrami.
Berry says that serving a higher quality of food is just a matter of smart buying. When he decided to buy a higher quality chicken, for example, he began to watch the market.
"It's like the stock market, you're always looking for ther best investment," Berry says. "When chicken is low, I buy."
Besides the instantly famous hamburger and hot dog options, which allow students to bypass the standard menu at any lunch or dinner. Berry says a permanent sandwich bar will be offered in the fall.
Berry says that much of his success can be attributed to meeting relatively simple requests from students--like those for decaffeinated coffee, or more vegetarian meals.
Besides improving the food in the dining hall, Berry has also been campus environmentalists' best friend this year, promising to replace disposable cups in the Union next year with permanent glass and plastic. Cereal, too, will be served in large containers to reduce cardboard waste. And Berry is planning to institute a comprehensive recycling program next year, beginning with a test run in the Union.
Students have communicated their elation to the new director, whom Harvard stole this year from University of California at Irvine to replace retiring 38-year veteran Frank Weissbecker.
"I'm somewhat overwhelmed by it," Berry says of the positive feedback. "I appreciate it."
"It's like a great athlete--you want to die young because sometimes it seems like it couldn't get any better," he says.