Meet Our Team
Every day, the members of the Columbia Dining team are here to greet you with a smile and a cup of coffee. Get to know some of our campus characters.
Nakia Anderson, Café 212
Nakia is a veteran at Columbia, with 14 years as part of the Dining team. With a gleam in her eye and a charming smile, Nakia greets and chats with students and other customers while she works as the cashier at Café 212.
Stressed about academic assignments, students visiting Café 212 often share tidbits of their daily lives with Nakia. With a joke, smile, and a tempting offer of the food served up in Café 212, Nakia tries to help distract students from their stress for just a moment. She’s proud of the variety offered on the menu and believes that fresh, healthy and well-cooked food can be therapeutic.
“When students recognize my name and tell me about their day, it makes it all worth it.” Nakia's warmth and humor is a special treat at Café 212.
Chef Donald Bartlett, Cafe 212
By age 15, Donald Bartlett knew he wanted to get a culinary degree. At the time, he was cleaning shrimp, working at a small restaurant in New Jersey, and learning as much as he could about cooking. He went on to attend Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, earning an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts.
From there, Chef Donald worked with the Chart House and Marriott Hotels, before opening both a pizzeria and a bakery in New Jersey.
In 2009, Chef Donald joined the Columbia Dining team, where he now helps manage three campus locations – Butler Blue Java, Dodge Blue Java, and Cafe 212. He designs the daily menus, from traditional fare to spicier items.
Chef Donald enjoys experimenting with new trends to shape his weekly menus. “It is always a learning process to come up with recipes and be creative,” he explains. “Having owned my own business, I had to teach myself a lot, which has helped.” Currently, he makes his own fresh mozzarella, which is used at Columbia Dining locations.
Of his job with Columbia Dining, Chef Donald says, “I love interacting with people. My wife calls me the mayor because I am always talking to people. I’m doing what I like to do – having fun, cooking food, being creative.”
Juan Carlos Garcia and Jocelyn Rosario, John Jay
Juan Carlos Garcia and Jocelyn Rosario separately made new homes and lives in New York after leaving the Dominican Republic. Their journey brought them both to Columbia University. They recall their first experiences in New York, the challenges faced, and their time with Columbia Dining.
Juan Carlos left the Dominican Republic with his wife in 1981. Of his journey, Juan Carlos explains, “It wasn’t easy to make my way to New York.” He quickly began work in Columbia Dining as a Head Porter, where he does everything from delivery and receiving, inventory, and maintenance support. Carlos lives with his wife and daughter in Manhattan and is the proud grandfather of two.
Jocelyn moved to New York with her family and shortly thereafter, joined the Columbia Dining team in 1988. During that time she has served as a cashier in John Jay and as an administrative assistant. Working as a cashier, Jocelyn really enjoys interacting with students on a daily basis. She feels she can relate easily to them, with her own children away from home in college. Jocelyn, married for 22 years, has four boys and lives in New Jersey.
Of her time at Columbia, Jocelyn fondly says, “This is my second home.” Carlos nods his head in affirmation and adds, “I feel blessed to have this job.” They exchange a glance and together end with, “We’re like family.”
Milton German, Ferris Booth Commons
Milton’s day starts with preparing food for hundreds of students arriving at Ferris Booth Commons in Lerner Hall. Students will find him making omelets or Philly cheese steaks at the action station. After working for 17 years at John Jay, Milton recently joined the team at Ferris and has enjoyed the new challenge.
Milton is proud to be part of the Columbia Dining team, where he feels the staff members work together as part of one big family. He takes pride to ensure the food he cooks not only tastes good, but is made with fresh ingredients and is healthy. “With a wide selection of dishes to choose from, students enjoy a great dining experience at Ferris,” remarks Milton.
Getting feedback from students and talking about their day, Milton eagerly looks forward to each day at work at Ferris Booth Commons.
Aaron Gomes, Assistant Director
For Aaron Gomes, it all started with a slice of pizza. Gomes attended William Patterson University where he studied Sociology and worked nights at a pizzeria. He started in delivery and eventually became a manager.
Following graduation, it was only natural for to Aaron begin his career with Columbia Dining as the late night manager at JJ’s Place. It was challenging to work until 4:00 a.m., but Aaron cites it as a great experience. From JJ’s, Aaron gained valuable experience across Dining, as a Production Manager at John Jay Hall, a General Manager at Ferris Booth Commons, and now in his current position of Assistant Director for Dining.
Aaron is also working towards his Master’s Degree in Higher and Post-Secondary Education Administration at Teacher’s College, expecting to graduate this May. Aaron most appreciates how his courses have helped him to understand the different departments and varied functions that all keep the wheels of the University moving.
Aaron attributes much of his determination and success to his parents who moved from Goa, India to the United States in 1983. “Growing up, my mother was my inspiration. It was through a lot of effort that my parents gave me a good upbringing.” Thanks to his parents, “I always aspire to learn more,” he reflects.
Angelo Mylonas, Executive Chef
Born and raised in Bayside, Queens, Angelo Mylonas started his culinary career at age 15 at his Uncle’s coffee shop. Years later, he graduated with honors from the New York Restaurant School in Manhattan. Chef Angelo has had an extensive career in the culinary world, including executive dining at Chase Manhattan and the New York Stock Exchange, and academic dining at Hunter College, Polytechnic Institute of NYU (Brooklyn), and Hofstra University. He’s also had several restaurant ventures, having owned a Greek Restaurant, Dean Ellies in Long Island, and a coffee shop in Queens.
Chef Angelo joined the Columbia University team in 2009. Angelo’s only aim at Columbia is to exceed student’s expectations, every day. “We make everything from scratch. There are new menu items weekly and we pick according to seasons,” he explains.
Each day brings a different task and challenge for Chef Angelo and that is the most exciting part of his job, he reveals. “I like cooking everything – from deserts to pastas and salads, bread puddings and cakes. I take great care of students with special dietary requirements and ensure that students get food that is suitable for their dietary needs.”
Chef Angelo lives in Long Island with his wife and children, where he loves to cook for his kids and their friends. Beyond his culinary talents, Chef Angelo enjoys spending time outdoors, landscaping at his home or kayaking.
Bayo Otiti, JJ's Place
Originally hailing from Nigeria, Bayo Otiti is the manager at the all new JJ's Place. He’s been part of the Columbia Dining team for close to three years now, after working at NYU for over a decade. Bayo was involved with the renovation of JJ's Place, which features many new enhancements including an amazing burger and the ever-loved Jamba Go station.
Bayo finds his job exciting, particularly the added twist of trying out new dishes and daily menu items at JJ's. Many of his latest creations are inspired by his favorite shows on the Food Network. The newest addition to JJ's Place is Seafood Friday, offering an alternative to the traditional fries and burgers. His next project is coordinating JJ’s Place first themed-meal, much like at John Jay.
Bayo welcomes input from students and always tries to incorporate their feedback when thinking about new and creative ways to make JJ’s food irresistible. Committed to the cause of serving fresh and healthy food, he encourages everyone to try out his new creations and let him know what you think.
Jayaraj “Raj” Ramachandran, Blue Java Dodge
After 10 years at cafés across the Columbia campus, Raj feels at home in Blue Java Dodge. “Just the simple coffee at Blue Java is my favorite,” he says.
The most rewarding part of the job for Raj is the opportunity to interact with students, faculty and other customers. Raj’s most touching experience was a parent thanking him for the coffee he brewed throughout the four years of her daughter's time at Columbia. It was a gratifying moment for him.
Constantly thinking of new ideas to bring the best to Blue Java, Raj hopes to see a hot food station open up soon. He feels students often in hurry would love to grab some hot food on their way to class.
After campus, Raj’s favorite place is Central Park. There, he can be spotted enjoying the sun and all that New York City has to offer.
Julio Rivera, Uris, Carlton, Lenfest
Julio Rivera was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx. In school, he studied carpentry, but in his career he quickly discovered a passion for cooking. Rivera has been with Columbia University for over 10 years now, on both the Morningside and Medical Center campuses, beginning as a porter in Wien Hall and later at a Medical Center dining unit. Since his return to the Morningside campus, he was promoted from Porter to Head Retail Service. In this role, he helps supervise the units at Uris Deli, Carlton, and Lenfest Cafe.
Julio’s passion is cooking and still carpentry, but he most likes working with people. “I am a people person. Working at Columbia, I interact with people from all backgrounds and nationalities. It’s exciting to be a part of,” he says.
Julio is married and has a young daughter. “I love cooking for her; she eats everything I make,” he proudly says with a wide smile.