Thriving Campus features testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff members. This month we feature Lynn Santiago, residence dining room manager of Open Kitchen and Hero Café + Market in Orchard Commons.
How do you thrive at work?
I am passionate about what I do and am incredibly fortunate to have found my “calling” very early in my career. It’s highly rewarding to relate to people about something as personal as food, and to see those familiar faces returning to dine at Open Kitchen over and over again.
Being part of the dynamic food program at UBC makes me highly motivated to take quality and food values to new levels, and to be part of the evolution of tearing down the “institutional cafeteria” stereotype. This includes introducing fresh new things to people’s palates and also learning from their dining experiences. Working closely with the culinary team, I contribute healthy and appealing menu ideas. In particular, I focus on being able to bring variety to guests with dietary needs.
Cultivating a work environment where laughter, smiles and “pleases” and “thank yous” are genuine and happen often is a huge part of my day. I am inspired whenever the wheels keep moving forward in a positive direction, exploring unchartered territory!
I thrive on lists. Honestly, I would be lost without my written notes and phone notepad. Another important technique I use is to keep a flexible schedule and set early deadlines, allowing for the constant detours that happen in my day.
For me, eating healthy isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. Open Kitchen Vegetarian Curry Chickpea Bowl and the Fruit Parfait Bar are my staples, and a beautifully crafted cappuccino at Hero Café is my daily treat.
How do you thrive at home?
My work week is very energy consuming and people focused, so my down-time is about self-nourishment and pressing the reset button. I tend to push myself so I am careful to listen to my body and get rest when I need it.
Wandering food shops and foraging for new ingredients to play with is my happy place. I devour books, lose myself in movies and connect with my people to stay grounded. Being out discovering and supporting owner/chef-run restaurants and travel feeds my constant curiosity of what’s going on in the culinary scene. I seek balance through travel, hiking, kayaking and camping – and embracing spontaneity keeps things fun and entertaining.
Lynn Santiago is the residence dining room manager of Open Kitchen and Hero Café + Market in Orchard Commons. A food and beverage management professional and entrepreneur, she is a graduate of Hospitality Administration at Vancouver Community College. Going into her 24th career-year, she has a diverse resumé that includes working with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Marriott International, Kimpton Hotels and Diva at the Met with Iron Chef Michael Noble and Pastry Chef Thomas Haas. She has also offered consulting services and owned a specialty food store and an award-winning restaurant.
Lynn has competed at the national level in ball hockey and was a member of the 2011 Women’s Floorball Team Canada.