Up to twenty times per week we swipe in at the dining hall, searching for the perfect combination of veggies, starches, and proteins to make up a meal. It often seems, however, like students are so consumed with nabbing a plate full of curly fries or that last slice of flourless chocolate cake that they fail to take the time to notice the dining services staff that prepare the foods and keep everything running smoothly.
Gibson Price, the LDC Sous Chef, does everything from creating menus to managing the staff and student workers. In an interview this past week, Price recounted his long history of cooking to me.
Despite being a picky eater, his father taught him too cook at a young age. He worked as cook throughout high school in order to pay his bills and then went on to train at the Minneapolis Community Technical College. There he obtained his Associate Degree in Culinary Arts.
Price did all of this at a remarkably young age. When he was only sixteen, he began to manage a pizza restaurant. After that, he went on to work at a number of independent restaurants including The Corner Table, a small, sustainable dining restaurant. “That was where I first gained interest in sustainable food,” he recalls.
Later, he was promoted to sous chef at the 5120 Restaurant in Bloomington, which is where, he says, “I perfected my craft.”
Price reports he gets his inspiration for menus from his “passion for food, creative new ideas, trends, sustainability, seasonality, and just research… just like anything else.”
While his main strengths are French and Italian cuisine, he loves playing around with ethnic food—especially Ethiopian and Asian food. He pointed out to me that every week, Chopsticks and Woks features dishes from a different region of Asia.
“It’s really fun being a chef here at Bon Appetit because the menus get to change daily. When you come in every day you can see a different thing on the menu. I take suggestions!” remarked Price.
When Price is not working at Carleton he loves spending time with his seven-year-old son, Gibson Jr. Currently, they are working on snowboarding, ice hockey and cooking potato chips, mashed potatoes, chicken tenders, french toast and spaghetti.
Despite his busy schedule, Price also still finds time to read. He is currently engrossed in Recipe for Russia, a history book about Russian cuisine. His fascination with Russian cuisine stems from his Russian heritage.
Gibson admits, “obviously, Russia isn’t really known for its food—it’s a lot of bland and simple flavors.” However, he says, “if you take something like that and put your own ideas into it, you make it better and infuse it with creativity.” Look out for Russian dishes like Borscht, Shepard’s pie and cabbage rolls to see the marks of Price’s inspiration.
Price has also really enjoyed collaborating with the Firebellies and teaching various cooking classes throughout term. In the future, he thinks he may end up teaching in a culinary school.
“Being here at Carleton has made me realize I really enjoy teaching kids—and being around young college students who just absorb things. I teach student workers every day. It might be small, it might be subtle but you will remember it,” Price says, a smile on his face.
And while Gibson is busy creating the menus, there are many talented chefs working tirelessly to cook and prepare our meals. I was lucky enough to interview Joe Giefer, a quiet, kind man who splits his time between the grill, Chopsticks and Woks and Wild Thymes.
Giefer’s mother and grandmother taught him to cook, and after working in various fast food and trucker restaurants, he started in the Carleton dish room thirteen years ago. Since then, he has worked his way up to being part of the production staff.
When Giefer is not working at Carleton, he spends time at home with his wife and kids. He has two daughters and one son. He also enjoys going on camping trips with his family. He says his favorite part of being a dad is “getting to enjoy the time with them.”
Surprisingly, he does not find it hard to balance his busy work schedule with seeing his family. “Usually my time at works as my alone time, without the kids. Sometimes, you just got to do that. Cooking is a pretty peaceful thing for me.”
In the future Giefer hopes to start his own catering service. When I asked what he thought the likelihood of this happening was, he flashed a smile that lit up his whole face and said, “It could happen.”
And although students do not see most of the workings of the chefs, there is one LDC staff member with whom they interact daily when entering the dining hall–Kim Deutsech, who frequently swipes students’ cards.
Deutsech gives off a mysterious vibe. She is often seen cozied up with a blanket reading a book. While she love thrillers and vampire books, the next book on her list is “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” as Deutsech just learned that she is pregnant. Next time you see Deutsech in the LDC, be sure to congratulate her.
Deutsech loves her job at Bon Appetit and says, “I just like the people. Everyone is really laid back and nice here and the students that come in are really nice—I can talk to them.”
When I asked her if there was anything else she would like to add to our interview, she smiled and said, “I always notice the birthdays on the backs of students’ cards—so I wish them happy birthday”.
The dining services workers in the LDC are fascinating people, and each has their own individual, interesting story. Next time you find yourself wandering around East Hall, consider taking the time to give Gibson Price a suggestion, or compliment Joe Giefer on his latest dish, or chat with Kim Deutsech about her day.