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Nov. 27, 2013
By Kari Sierks, media relations assistant
Preparing meals for players in the National Football League is just one professional opportunity Erin Wishon has achieved because of the experience she gained at Northwest Missouri State University. She has cooked at NFL and Major League Baseball venues and worked with celebrity chefs as an executive chef with Aramark Sports and Entertainment.
Aramark Higher Education, Northwest’s Campus Dining provider, has a successful history of hiring and retaining Northwest graduates. Wishon, a 2000 graduate, has worked for Aramark since 2010 and currently works as executive chef at Soldier Field in Chicago, home of the Chicago Bears NFL team.
Previously, Wishon worked as executive chef at Arrowhead Stadium. There, Wishon cooked for and served Kansas City Chiefs players and coaches two to three meals a day, six days a week. When the executive chef position opened at Kauffman Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Royals baseball team, she took on that role as well. Wishon also worked as the executive chef at a casino in Kansas City for five years.
During the NFL season, her days are long. On a typical day at Arrowhead Stadium, Wishon started preparing for a 6:30 a.m. breakfast at 5 a.m., and then moved into preparing lunch. During the offseason, Wishon worked on menu development, pricing and other preparations for the next season.
“People don’t really understand the effort it takes to feed a stadium,” Wishon said. “We begin preparing about a week in advance, and most accounts to a fair amount of catering, which keeps us busy as well.”
Wishon created a winning sandwich that was featured throughout Arrowhead Stadium during the 2010 NFL season, and she designed the menu for the 2012 All-Star Game and galas at Kauffman Stadium.
“It was an incredible opportunity, definitely the job I have enjoyed the most of my career,” Wishon said. “The Chiefs are a class-act organization and I loved working with them.”
Although there are other lines of business for Aramark, Wishon said she prefers the excitement of sports and entertainment. She still returns to Kansas City to assist with dining operations at Arrowhead Stadium, when the stadium’s current executive chef needs additional culinary support.
Originally from Omaha, Neb., Wishon earned a degree in food service management and business from Northwest. She then earned a degree in culinary arts from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I.
At Northwest, Wishon worked for Campus Dining as the student catering manager. She credits Northwest for helping her find success as an executive chef.
“Northwest provided me with a well-rounded education that allowed me to just add in the culinary piece for a quick and painless move into an executive chef role,” Wishon said. “The education I received from Northwest prepared me well for so many aspects of my job that it really put me on the fast track.”
Building on their partnership, Aramark recently selected Northwest as a location for its Aramark Environmental Sustainability Internship Program and its Accelerate to Leadership program, both of which offer internship opportunities and full-time employment. The Accelerate to Leadership program offers internships for sophomores, juniors and seniors and hopes to hire 400 interns and 400 college grads for 2014.
In the meantime, Aramark has 21 sustainability interns enrolled nationally this year and it hopes to double that number in 2014. The sustainability internship focuses on dining operations in addition to sustainable product sourcing, waste management, and energy and water conversation.
|Ashley Cadenhead is Northwest Campus Dining’s
sustainability intern. (Photo by Darren Whitley/
Northwest Missouri State
Ashley Cadenhead, a senior marketing and business management major from Kansas City, is Northwest Campus Dining’s sustainability intern this year. She is developing phased plan proposal that is environmentally, socially and economically meaningful in elevating sustainable eating habits. Cadenhead also works with Northwest to increase awareness of sustainability efforts, publicize events and make recommendations about product placement within dining facilities.
After graduation, Cadenhead plans to pursue a master’s degree in business management and marketing and hopes to continue to work for Aramark. She hopes to utilize both her marketing and sustainability skills.
“I would love to continue my career with Aramark,” Cadenhead said. “I would like to expand to a different location or line of business within the company, if given the opportunity.”
Like Wishon, Cadenhead has reaped the benefits of working for Aramark.
“It has allowed us to revamp our presence within the University community by highlighting sustainable initiatives that are a reflection of the University’s ‘green’ efforts, and I get a sense of pride knowing my future alma mater is doing their part to help our environment,” Cadenhead said. “The knowledge I have gained throughout this experience has increased my awareness of the environmental and health and wellness issues affecting our lives each day.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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