Today for our Staff Spotlight story we’re sitting down Chef Heather Moore, our Director of Culinary Operations and Adjunct Professor. Chef Moore, a Certified Master Baker (CMB) and a Certified Executive Pastry Chef, is a Schoolcraft College graduate who has performed a wide variety of roles with the College.
Schoolcraft College: Hello, Chef Moore! You have been a familiar face around Schoolcraft College, first as a student, then as an instructor and a director. Please tell us a little about how you got interested in Culinary Arts and what led you to Schoolcraft College.
Chef Heather Moore: When I graduated high school I was pretty set that I was going to be an elementary school teacher. I even completed the kiddie campus program at Canton High School, which was a program to prepare you for early childhood education. I completed one year at Eastern Michigan University and realized that I really needed a change.
That’s when a friend of mine mentioned that he heard about a new Baking and Pastry program at Schoolcraft College. It immediately piqued my interest because if I’m being honest I had no idea you could even go to school for baking and pastry arts. From the moment I started the program it all clicked for me and I was where I was meant to be. I loved the environment, I loved the creativity, and I loved being surrounded by others that enjoyed the same things that I did. It is kind of neat that I did still end up teaching just college and not elementary school.
Schoolcraft College: Can you please explain what being the Director of Culinary Operations entails?
Chef Heather Moore: As the director of Culinary Operations I oversee the department that operates all of the food venues on campus, with the exception of American Harvest, which is run by the Culinary Arts program. This includes Conference and Events, Henry’s and Main Street Café in the VisTaTech Center; JC Café in the Jeffress Center; wholesale food or the Livonia Medical Center; Ocelot Market at the St. Joe’s Sports Center; The Elite Market and Smoothie Bar at the St. Joe’s Mercy Elite Sports Center; and Ocelot Market Express at the Fitness Center. (And more to come!)
Schoolcraft College: What does a “typical” day look like for you and your team?
Chef Heather Moore: Busy! Our team has been amazing this past year of adapting to so many changes and dealing with the difficulties of labor shortages and supply chain issues. Because we oversee all of the food venues on campus, being a member of our team means every day could look a little different. Conference and events have begun to really pick back up. Our top-notch service staff is focusing on executing a new menu that provides a variety of comfort levels for large gatherings.
Our team of talented chefs and culinary art student employees prepare our food from scratch for our venues as well as events. The St. Joe’s Mercy Elite Sports Center has kept our team at the Elite Market and Smoothie Bar very busy with weekly tournaments. Our smoothie bar team makes around 1,000 smoothies a weekend during these tournaments.
Schoolcraft College: What’s on the horizon for Culinary Operations? Can you give us a sneak preview of things to look for this spring and summer and into the fall?
Chef Heather Moore: Lots of exciting things are in the future for dining at Schoolcraft! We are currently in the process of opening an Ocelot Market inside the Manufacturing & Engineering Center (MEC) as well as the Masco building on our main campus. JC Café will be adding in a Starbucks barista menu in the next few weeks.
I am most excited about the VisTaTech 2.0 project, which breaks ground the beginning of August. American Harvest will be remodeled and expanded, and several new things are being built. This includes a state-of-the-art demonstration lab, a beautiful pre-function space that will connect a hallway we use for events to the main entrance of the building, a new Main Street Café, a prep kitchen that is shared space for Main Street Café and the demonstration kitchen, and a brew pub and kitchen to service it.
With all of that being said, this year will look a little different. Henry’s will continue in a grab-and-go format with expanded offerings, and a temporary Main Street Café will occupy some of the currently unused Henry’s space.
Schoolcraft College: What are some highlights for you, both as a student and in your career?
Chef Heather Moore: My highlight as a student without a doubt was being able apprentice under Chef Joseph Decker, Certified Master Pastry Chef (CMPC). It was an unforgettable learning experience that I was fortunate enough to have. Another highlight as a student was building relationships with the other students. Your classmates and instructors truly become your family, and that bond lasts a lifetime.
As far as highlights of my career, I can truly say that coming back to Schoolcraft as an adjunct instructor was one of my top highlights. It felt like coming home, and it was surreal at first to be teaching the next generation of culinarians what I was taught within the same walls.
The other highlight of my career was obtaining my CMB certification through the Retail Bakers of America (RBA). Since obtaining my certification I have also become a lead judge for the RBA. It’s been amazing to be able to travel to different testing locations and meet amazing bakers from all over the country.
Schoolcraft College: What’s your favorite dish to make and why?
Chef Heather Moore: I wouldn’t say there is one particular dish that I like to make, but rather my favorite thing to do is plan events and menus around a theme. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for a great theme. I love the whole process of planning and then seeing all of the details come to life. It’s fun to get the whole team involved and be creative together.
Schoolcraft College: Thank you, Chef Moore! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Chef Heather Moore: I would like to say thank you to the Schoolcraft community for being so supportive and understanding of our department while we undergo so many large changes and challenges. I am very excited about the future of our department and the exciting things you will be seeing in the near future.