I got the chance to sit down with one of our beloved Salmo workers, Abimael Fontalvo, and he had a lot to say about his job here at Bryant University. Don’t worry, there’s no food scandal or worker drama, but his words will change the way you view the people that make your food every day. It’s not an easy job, especially when you can’t control the food or the people eating it. However, it doesn’t make him any less grateful to come to work.
He’s worked at Bryant for twelve years, and for the majority of those years, the food provider was Sodexo. Last year it changed to Aramark. He shared his feelings regarding the providers, and he also explained to me why he puts up with being so restricted with his cooking here. Abimael genuinely loves his job; he tries his very best every time he puts on his chef jacket.
Spoon: What’s your favorite food to make at home?
AF: Coconut rice (yum).
Spoon: What’s your favorite food to make here?
AF: Stir fry.
Spoon: What’s something special about your culture?
AF: Everything we make, we add flavor. We use this brand called Goya, that’s a brand for us. We use a lot of spices to make [the food] better.
Spoon: How do you like to use your culture in your cooking at Salmo?
AF: We used to make a lot of Spanish food: dulce de leche, empenadas. A lot of kids ask us why we don’t make them anymore, but we haven’t been able to try anything new lately.
Spoon: What’s something not a lot of people know about Salmo?
AF: I know that the company (food providers) are different, but it’s the same people. We’re trying to make stuff better and better, but sometimes we have limits. We really do try to keep [the students satisfaction] in mind, but sometimes they don’t focus on that.
Spoon: That’s interesting, you think that they would want to keep the students in mind all the time.
AF: They used to ask the students what they liked, we used to.
Spoon: What’s something that bothers you about cooking here?
AF: Nothing, I’m trying to take care of the students. I’m always trying to do my best. We know that we have to sanitize, it’s very strict. I like to do that, I don’t want to get anyone sick.
Spoon: What’s something you love about it?
AF: I know every semester, new kids come, and I always like it because I have kids. I know that my kids, one day, are going to college. For me I treat [the students] as my kids. I like to meet them, get to talking. Also, there’s a lot of Spanish kids right now, and I like to talk to them. I know sometimes I’m serious, that’s what I am, but I always try to be fun.
I want to show the kids a lot of food, to show them my best. They need to try new things, there’s a lot of different food out there. They think that they won’t like it when they look at it or read the name, but I challenge that. Try new things, we always try to make it for [you], so taste it. Sometimes we go by the recipe, we taste it, and we know we have to go by the rules, but we add a little make it taste better.
So, please, take his words to heart. Mr. Fontalvo really does care about your satisfaction when you walk into Salmo. Understand that the people that work there, whether they’re working at Global, cleaning the tables, making you a sandwich, or behind the scenes in the kitchen, adore their jobs. These people work hard and appreciate the happiness of the student body, they enjoy feedback and love to joke around and have fun at work. Next time, take a stop at Global and try something new, you’ll never know what you’re missing out on.