Get to know Columbia Dining
Our team is focused on providing you with the best possible Dining experience during your time at Columbia. Read more about our pledge to you. Here's a sneak peak at some of our people, it's clear to see why our students love them!
Hungry for more?
Check out our YouTube channel for more staff and special event videos.
Vicki joined Columbia University in 2007. Under her leadership, Columbia Dining has built a solid reputation as a high-quality, customer-oriented department. Vicki’s focus for Dining is providing total customer satisfaction and meeting the needs of the diverse Columbia population. Prior to joining Columbia, Vicki was the Senior Director of Marketing for Sodexho Campus Services. Vicki holds an Associate Degree in Operational Sciences from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. In her free time, Vicki enjoys baking (brownies are her specialty), reading, and caring for her four dogs, Sophy, Emma, Casey and Molly.
Justine joined the team in 2014 as Assistant Director. In this role, she is responsible for supporting all of the Dining Managers and serves as a liaison to the Executive Director. She brings with her 10 plus years of food and hospitality management experience. Prior to beginning her career at Columbia, Justine worked in the hotel industry, most recently at the Omni Berkshire Place. It is her hope to bring a unique perspective to the Dining program at Columbia by introducing new ideas, menu items and processes adopted from her hospitality background. Justine earned an Associate’s degree in food and beverage management as well as a Bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, both from Johnson & Wales University. Originally from New Jersey, Justine developed a love of food and food presentation from an early age. She now resides in New York City and spends much of her free time exploring the local culinary scene. She also loves to watch movies, go shopping and cooking.
Chef Michael is responsible for the overall operations and culinary experience at Columbia Dining. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Staten Island, he grew up in a home where good food was integral to daily life. He started cooking himself at an early age and later pursued his professional culinary degree at Johnson and Wales University for Culinary Arts in Providence, RI. His experience includes the Intercontinental Hotel in New York City, where he also travelled the hotel’s Asia network; Corporate Foods providing service to clients like Citibank, US Today, and Entertainment Weekly; and Fordham University where he served as the Dining Services Executive Chef for 18 years.
Christina Lee, RD joined the Columbia Dining team in 2015. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from New York University and a Nutrition Advanced Certificate from University at Buffalo, where she completed her Dietetic Internship prior to coming to Columbia. Christina also has experience working at food service companies and restaurants, focusing on menu development. Her interest in health and wellness was triggered early by her health conscious family and continues to thrive. Christina loves to travel around the world to places like Korea and Guatemala, but calls New York home. She enjoys cooking up tasty recipes in her spare time and looks forward to getting to know students and suggesting fresh ideas in her new role.
Rosie has worked in customer service for Dining since 1998. Known for her positive energy, smile and charisma, her responsibilities include reassuring parents that their children will have healthy and hearty meals while away from home. Most importantly, Rosie works to resolve questions or issues students may have concerning their dining accounts. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and preparing healthy and hearty meals.
Blue Java Café - Lerner Hall
Hazel joined Columbia University in November 1984 as kitchen staff. After a few computer courses, Hazel became an accounts receivable administrator in John Jay, enabling her to draw from her prior accounting experience in Panama City. Later, she was promoted to manager, where she led the JJ’s Place opening team. Following her success, she was appointed to open Ferris Booth Commons, an experience she believes was her biggest opportunity at Columbia. She then went on to manage Blue Java Mudd, Lenfest Cafe, and Uris Deli. Hazel is the recipient of the Robert Leer Service Award, an honor given each year to a member of the faculty, administration, or staff who clearly demonstrates commitment to working with students. Hazel was born in the Republic of Panama, where she graduated from Gaston Faraudo, an accounting school in Panama City.
Jafor joined Columbia University in November 2010 as Assistant Manager at Café 212. He has been thrilled to bring his corporate food service and hospitality experience to higher education, where he enjoys working with the diverse student body. Prior to Columbia, he spent 22 years with Sodexo at the Merrill Lynch World Financial Center location, where he worked as a waiter and cashier, then gained financial and technical support experience. Jafor has a diploma in Civil Engineering from his native country, Bangladesh, where he moved from over 25 years ago. He lives in the Bronx with his wife, 3 children and extended family.
Adebayo joined the Columbia University team in August 2010. He spent 14 years with NYU Dining, where he most recently served as the Food Service Director. During his tenure at NYU, he spearheaded the Annual Grad Alley event with over 20,000 attendees. Adebayo attended New York City Technical College where he studied Hotel and Hospitality Management. He’s a proud father of four children—two are in high school, and the elder two are in college.
Before Sandy joined the Columbia Dining family a few years ago, she spent 3 years as a Manager at NYU. She earned her degree in Hospitality at Monroe College and uses her training to contribute to the great service at Ferris Booth. Sandy is a native New Yorker - born and raised - and still resides in the Bronx. She loves spending time with her family and serving up her famous baked ziti. She looks forward to getting to know students and introducing some exciting new menu items at Ferris this year.
Mario joined the Columbia team in 2011 as Production Manager for John Jay Dining Hall. Mario brings an extensive food industry resume with him. He spent 13 years working for Sodexo, progressing from Chef Manager at McKinsey to General Manager at Cigna Corporation. In 2006, Mario made the move to higher education dining as Food Production Manager at Hunter College, followed by a position at NYU Kimmel Market as Food Production Manager.
Chris joined the Ferris Booth team in 2015 as Manager. He brings with him several years of corporate catering experience from Merck Pharmaceuticals to American Express. His interest in the food industry was sparked at the early age of 16 when he earned his keep as a bus boy at a local diner. While Chris was born and raised in Brooklyn, he spent many years working in the San Diego restaurant scene. It is here that he grew to love southwestern cuisine, which he hopes to bring more of to the menu at Ferris Booth. Off campus, Chris is an avid sports fan, supporting both the Yankees and Jets, and loves spending as much time with his daughter as he can. He's thrilled to be a part of the Columbia Dining team and looks forward to continuing our tradition of creating the best possible Dining experience for our students.
Jasmine joined the Dining team in 2014 as Assistant Manager at Ferris Booth. In this role she is focused on food quality, service and sanitation and is responsible for opening. Jasmine has a passion for good food and is enthusiastic about working at Columbia. Her previous professional experience includes a management role at Chipotle in Florida, work at a local NYC seminary, a line cook position and a temporary assignment as manager at John Jay. Jasmine holds a degree in Hospitality and Hotel Management from Monroe College and attributes her interest in hospitality to her mother, who also worked in the business. A native of the Bronx, she enjoys entertaining friends and family when she is not at Columbia and loves experimenting with food.
Christina joined the JJ's Place team in 2014. She is originally from Rochester, NY where she got her first taste of the food and beverage industry working the counter at a local burger joint, and has been hooked ever since. After moving to New York City to pursue her Bachelor’s degree at NYU, Christina worked as a floor supervisor at Georgetown Cupcake and later as an assistant restaurant manager at the Omni Berkshire Place. Christina’s top priority is to make sure every guest leaves happy, and she takes student feedback very seriously. She ensures the dining hall is clean, organized, offers variety, and above all, that all customers are satisfied. Christina is also excited to introduce new special events to the space. Outside of work, she enjoys trying new foods, making her own juices and thrift shopping.
R'mar joined the JJ's Place team in 2015. He brings12 years of food management experience from Aramark, where he was a Retail Manager at Long Island University in Brooklyn. He also spent some time as a Club Seat Manager at Madison Square Garden. R'mar is Board of Health and ServSafe certified and will ensure a healthy and safe dining experience for all. His love of food began with his mother's home-cooked Sunday dinners growing up in Brooklyn. He now lives in the Bronx and loves spending time with his daughter. R'mar is excited to learn and grow at Columbia and is very interested in hearing what the students like. Stop by JJ's late night and let him know!
Yodher joined Columbia Dining in early 2017 as Assistant Manager of JJ's, responsible for the evening shift. He comes with several years of hospitality experience including management of casual and fine dining restaurants in NYC. He also holds a bachelor's degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, located in his current home state of New Jersey. Originally from Peru, Yodher enjoys South American cuisine and hopes to bring some of these new flavors to the JJ's menu. Beyond campus life, he dabbles in interior design and loves to travel. Yodher also loves interacting with people so stop by and say hola!
John Jay Dining Hall
Inspired by his family's pizza parlor in upstate NY, Joe always wanted to work in the Hospitality Service Industry. He became a dishwasher at 13 years old, where he was treated like family and learned everything he could about the kitchen. One day after work, he was asked if he could stay to help out in the Dining Room. He later became a waiter and a bar back. He attended The Culinary Institute of America, and just before graduation, he accepted a management position with Westchester Marriott Hotels. Throughout the years, Joe has worked in casual to high volume bar restaurants, including a dining room manager at the iconic " Tavern on The Green. "
Keysha joined the team at John Jay in the fall of 2016 as Assistant Manager. Prior to Columbia, she worked at a security firm and has experience in several New York hotels. Keysha earned her Master's Degree in Hospitality from Monroe College. Originally from Trinidad and Tobabgo, she now calls Queens home. Keysha is eager to learn everything about Columbia, looks forward to interacting with students, and hopes to add some Caribbean flair to the menu. During her free time she loves to travel and hopes to visit Europe on her next adventure. She also has a passion for baking and enjoys making everything from pastries to breads.
Jessica joined the team in 2015 as Assistant Manager at JJ’s Place and now John Jay. She was born in Queens, NY and raised in Manhattan where she began her culinary training at Food & Finance High School. Her interest in food began during middle school when she realized she wanted to be a chef and work in a kitchen. Jessica attended John Jay College and then began working as a prep cook, and later in other positions, at Le Pain Quotidien for 2 years before coming to Columbia. In her spare time, she enjoys sketching, especially animals and landscapes, and has a passion for architecture. Jessica also loves to cook Italian and Thai foods and looks forward to bringing some of these flavors to the menu at JJ’s.
Kareem, also known as Ras, began his career at Columbia University in 2010 as a Second Cook and was soon promoted to First Cook. In 2016 he took on a leadership role as Chef Manager in John Jay. Prior to joining the Columbia Dining team, Ras spent several years in corporate dining as a Restaurant Associate. His most recent position was at AllianceBernstein, an investment management and research firm. It’s no surprise that Ras loves to cook, Asian cuisine is his favorite to experiment with. He grew up in the Bronx and still calls it home. When he’s not whipping up new recipes, you can find him on the soccer pitch playing midfield.
Mark began his career at Columbia Dining as Concessions Manager in Fall 2016. In this role he manages the day to day operations of Roar-ee's Refreshments at Baker's Field. His team of approximately 40 students runs the concessions booth and truck during home athletic events. During the off-seasons, Mark lends a hand in John Jay Dining hall. Prior to arriving at Columbia, he spent many years in the hospitality industry after earning his Bachelor's degree from Loyola College. As Caddy Manager for Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey, he provided hospitality services to golfers for seven years. He also spent some time as the Assistant Manager for Bedens Brook Club and most recently as the Lufthansa Lounge Manager at Newark Airport. Outside of work Mark enjoys watching the NY Giants, boxing, and getting in a round of golf when he can. He was born and raised in New Jersey and still resides there today.
Donald joined Columbia University in 2009 and is Chef Manager for Uris Deli, Blue Java Mudd and Lenfest Cafe. He is a well-seasoned chef who truly enjoys the art of cooking. Donald began his career on the culinary team at the Park Ridge Marriott. Later, he served as Executive Chef for an Assisted Living Facility in Emerson NJ, until he became the Director of Dining for the Johnson Wood Company. An entrepreneur, Donald also opened a pizza café; he was a preferred off-premise caterer for television and movie sets; he developed a line of baked gourmet brownies for large supermarket chains; he launched a gift basket Internet business; and he packaged handmade fresh mozzarella for supermarkets and catering halls in the tri-state area. Donald earned his degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University for Culinary Arts in Providence, RI.
Martha joined the Dining team in Fall 2016 as an Assistant Manager. Her prior professional experience includes 5 years in the food service industry including positions within the Department of Education and a NY based hospital. Martha earned a Bachelor's degree in Hospitality Management from NYC College of Technology and her desire to learn continues to grow. While she was born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, she has family in Spain and Honduras and loves to visit as often as possible. Martha recently relocated to Westchester and enjoys spending time with her family above all else. She occasionally dabbles in baking pastries in her free time. She is very excited to introduce some creative new menus items and looks forward to hearing your feedback!