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Behind the Scenes

Hospitality Is on the House

By Paul K. Nitze

If you've seen a few too many preformed burger patties and machine-cut carrot sticks, if you feel like Harvard Dining Services (HDS) has more in common with a robotic assembly plant than your kitchen at home, then you might want to consider a transfer to Adams House.

Working at the Adams House grill on most nights, and well known to many house residents, you'll find Winston T.J. Maynard, who has been filling special orders for 19 years.

Like many HDS employees, Maynard has stayed in one House for many years and has no desire to move anywhere else.

"People stay here for a long time," he says. "I don't want no other House than Adams House."

Originally from the West Indian island of St. Kitts, Maynard has brought a home-cooked spirit to the Adams House dining hall and has pleased countless students along the way.

Should you wonder about whom to look for, Maynard's light, graying beard and Caribbean accent are unmistakable. He might even make you forget the arctic climate for a few delusional moments.

Maynard's cooking duties are no different than those of other HDS chefs, but he's most popular with students for filling special orders.

"I usually tell [students] to ask me what they want, and if I can accommodate them, I will," Maynard says. "It makes me feel good to help people."

Despite his evident pride in Adams, Maynard is reluctant to elevate his House's dining experience above that of the other Harvard dining halls.

"I wouldn't try to put down other Houses," he says, "but I'd say we get good reviews."

Maynard is careful to emphasize that a good dining experience at Harvard is always the product of a team effort.

"It's not me," he says. "Anyone here will try to help you. It's not a one man show."

While at some Houses you might have to navigate a few counters to talk to the kitchen staff, in Adams you can walk right through. The newly-designed dining hall makes it even easier to order a veggie pattie or burrito, inevitably arriving with a creative garnish.

Maynard's personal touch tends to be just the thing for the cold or flu you're not quite ready to take to the forbidding atmosphere of University Health Services (UHS).

And Maynards traditional approaches might even work.

"If someone's sick, we'll make them special tea, like ginger tea or something," he says.

But Maynard's charm may extend beyond his cooking abilities.

"When we have parties I give the candies and the roses to the ladies," he says.

The relationship between Maynard and Adams House residents is a two-way street. As Maynard is quick to point out, the majority of the improvements in food and service in the Houses is the result of efforts by students--not HDS employees.

"I think the majority of changes and input should come from the students," he says. "After all, it's their $30,000."

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