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New director aims to spice up campus dining
Erik Dodge
Antelope Staff

Interim director of dining services Adam Cordova is a seasoned veteran in the kitchen who brings all the ingredients to handle the heat campus dining puts out.

Cordova has worked for Chartwells for eight years, for the Hereford House steak restaurant in Kansas City, for Washburn University as associate director of dining services and at two country clubs. He has since done a chef apprenticeship studying culinary arts at Johnson County Community College in Lawrence, Kan. He received fine dining, wine and bar management training and worked at a Naismith Hall, a private Kansas University residence hall. Cordova hopes to use some of his experience at UNK.

“I have a lot of experience in residential dining. I did that for six years at Naismith, and I’m actually trying to implement some of the things I was doing there, here,” he said.

Cordova wants to add something similar to the grill window from Naismith, where students could order hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, Philly cheese steak sandwiches and other items.     

Providing made to order food means a fresher product that students appreciate, according to Cordova. “That was our most popular station,” he said.

He also wants to introduce more carved meats to the menu in the Market Carvery. “There’s a reason why it’s called Market Carvery,” he said.

Menu changes are also a possibility with help from Cordova’s Washburn colleagues. “I have some of my chefs from Washburn University working on some menu changes for here at UNK,” he said.

But he is not trying to change everything. “I’m not going to touch the bakery. I think the bakery is fantastic.”

Cordova said the baker does an amazing job and that each baked item is made fresh every day.

When Cordova was young he thought his degree would be in business, but he could not leave the kitchen. He said he found his way into the business because he loved cooking.

“Once I graduated high school, my plan was to actually go to KU to get a business degree, but I fell in love with cooking and decided to go to culinary school,” the Kansas native said.

Instead of business school, Cordova went to Jonson County Community College in Kansas to stay in the field he worked in since he was old enough to drive.

At 16 he went to a golf course, Lawrence Country Club, to get his first taste of the food industry and worked as a dishwasher.

 “I started out at the bottom of the totem pole,” Cordova said.

He was able to work his way up to a position as a prep cook and then a line cook before studying culinary arts. Fine dining drew him into a variety of work that kept his hands full. Once he met his wife he could no longer work 70-hour weeks. A call from an ex-colleague at Washburn beckoned him back into university life, but the atmosphere is what he really enjoys.

“I decided to go back into residential dining for the livelihood,” he said.


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