About Us

Our Team

  • 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 Sodexo 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 dogs. 

  • Thomas Gannon joined the Dining team at John Jay Dining Hall in September 2023. Prior to Columbia, he earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and later made his way to New York to cook. Thomas has over a decade of cooking and chef experience in NYC restaurants, from the most intimate steakhouse to the rowdiest hotel rooftop taco bar. He has developed an empathetic and approachable style of leadership and takes pride in teaching others while learning from them, too. His favorite food is pizza. In his spare time, he enjoys photography and exploring the city's food scene with his girlfriend.

  • 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.

  • Rebecca joined Columbia Dining in June 2023. Originally from Idaho, she began her career with Compass Group in higher education in the Western states and eventually worked her way up to supporting top accounts in the private sector in New York. As Executive Director of Operations, she provides operational and organizational leadership for all elements of Dining across both the Morningside and Manhattanville campuses. She is responsible for identifying, creating, and implementing solutions to improve communications, customer service, information processing and analysis. Rebecca's passion for hospitality and strong leadership aid her in providing students a second to none Dining experience. Outside of work, Rebecca can be found exploring the city on long-distance running routes. The 2023 New York City Marathon was her third marathon.

  • Natasha started full time with the Columbia Dining team in June 2022. Previously she worked as a supervisor at Red Lobster where she developed problem solving and customer service skills. With four years of experience in the food service industry, Natasha is excited to join the Columbia Dining team and learn more about developing menus that appeal to our diverse student body. She loves seeing students happy with the food and service they receive and wants students to know that she cares deeply about their dining experience.

    Originally from Queens, NY, Natasha is a Stranger Things fan who loves watching action movies. She enjoys southern style cuisine and would like to help plan a meme-themed event.

  • Nakia started her career in catering and event planning at Columbia University's Lerner Hall, where she was Assistant Catering Manager from 2001 to 2005. She rejoined the Columbia Dining team in November 2023 as the Catering Manager at Teachers College. Over the years, she's displayed her catering expertise at various universities like Juilliard, Rutgers University, and Rider University, as well as big companies such as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and KPMG. With over 20 years of experience, Nakia has earned a reputation for her boundless creativity, designing grand and colorful events. She is always eager to go above and beyond for her clients. Outside of work, Nakia enjoys traveling, discovering new dishes, and visiting wineries.

  • Chef Mike is responsible for the overall operations and culinary experience at Columbia University. 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 traveled 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.


  • Marcos Varas joined the Columbia Dining team in 2024. In this role, he is responsible for the oversight and support of daily culinary operations at Ferris Booth Commons. Prior to joining the team, Marcos held positions in hotels, restaurants, and event catering. Marcos is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and the Institute of Culinary Education. Born in Argentina, he grew up in a large family where memories were made around the kitchen table, fueled by their passion for food and soccer. Marcos grew up in Queens and is grateful to experience and contribute to New York’s rich and diverse culinary melting pot. 

  • Marc started at Columbia Dining in September 2021. He has more than 30 years of experience in the food industry and loves the fast-paced environment that food service offers. Prior to Columbia, Marc worked as a shift supervisor at Madison Square Garden where honed his customer service skills. Marc looks forward to helping shape the dining experience at Columbia.

    Marc is originally from Ocho Rios, Jamaica. In his spare time, Marc loves to go to the beach, grill and host big, Jamaican barbeques. Marc holds a degree in culinary arts from the Art Institute of New York.

  • Lucas joined the Columbia Dining team as an intern in October 2022 supporting operations at Ferris Booth Commons and Chef Mike’s Sub Shop. He is a Columbia College student, Class of 2026, studying history and creative writing. His favorite station at Chef Mike’s is the cold special, paired with an oatmeal raisin cookie. In his spare time, Lucas loves to read, write, cook, and watch TV.

  • Kerri Hoban joined the Dining team in fall 2021 as the Assistant Manager in John Jay Dining Hall. Kerri works the evening period to make sure all the food stations are ready for dinner, supports staff during service, and is there to help students.

    Kerri has extensive experience in food service and hospitality, most recently serving as a food service supervisor for a city hospital in the Bronx and the concession operations in Wollman Rink in Central Park. Kerri graduated from Monroe College with a degree in Hospitality Management. Born and raised in the Bronx, Kerri enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, watching horror movies, listening to music and playing pool. Kerri's favorite food is steak.

  • 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. In 2018, he was then promoted to Campus Dining. 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. 

  • Justin joined the Columbia dining team in May 2022. Previously he worked as a manager at The Standard Hotel Beer Garden where he learned the importance of a flexible attitude and approach in the food service industry. He is excited to continue growing his management skills and looks forward to contributing to the community-building events for which Columbia Dining is known. Justin wants the students to know that he is always available to help them with whatever they need in the dining hall.

    In his spare time, Justin enjoys listening to The Michael Kay Show podcast about the inner workings of MLB teams. He is originally from the Bronx, NY and his favorite meal is linguine with marinara sauce served with a side of freshly baked bread.

  • John Navas joined the Columbia Dining team in November 2023, bringing a wealth of hospitality experience from over three years at Walt Disney World Resort. During his tenure at Disney World, John worked across Magic Kingdom, the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, and the All-Stars resorts. In 2022, he became a supervisor at the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. Prior to Disney, he worked as a line cook at Pistachio's, a student dining location at the University at Buffalo. 

    John is originally from Brooklyn, New York. When he's not cooking for the student's at Columbia, he enjoys making meals for his family and friends for the occasional game night. John is excited to hear from students how he can help elevate their dining experience, and beyond that, he wants to create a welcoming and enjoyable environment at Ferris. 

  • Jerome Charpentier is the Executive Sous Chef for Catering and the Culinary Center. Jerome holds a BA in Culinary Arts from the Collège Edouard Herriot and brings notable culinary experience from his time in top New York City restaurants.

  • Jafor 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.

  • Hazel Clark is the Assistant General Manager, Manhattanville Operations at the Commons and the Cafe. Hazel originally 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.

  • Chef Elhoucine Baha joined the Columbia Dining team in February 2022. He is responsible for the dining and catering operations for the culinary teams in Henry R. Kravis and David Geffen Halls, including the Robert F. Smith Dining Hall, the Cafe, and catered events. Chef Baha is grateful for the opportunity to join a new operation with the culinary team from the very beginning of their time in Manhattanville.

    He brings over 30 years of industry experience having worked in the hotel business, including restaurants, private dining, and special event catering. Most recently he served at the Millennium Hotel Broadway and the Mandarín Oriental Hotel.

    Chef Baha attended hotel business school in his native country of Morocco. After graduation, he traveled and worked through Europe before coming to the United States in 1998. His favorite Moroccan dish is chicken tagine with preserved lemon. His favorite Italian dish is truffle risotto. Hopefully diners at the Business School will get to sample both!

    Chef Baha loves to cook and cares deeply about his guests' experience -- from presentation and service to the dish itself -- so that they are happy, full, and always come back.

  • Eathon joined the Columbia Dining team in December 2021 and serves as the Assistant Manager for upper campus retail locations, including Chef Mike's Sub Shop and Lenfest Cafe, plus the Blue Java cafe locations in Uris, Mudd Hall, Butler Library and Lerner Hall.

    Prior to joining the Columbia team, Eathon worked with retail clients, most recently with Trader Joe’s and Fairway Markets. A foodie - like the rest of the team - Eathon's favorite food is avocados. He can’t eat a meal without them! In his free time, Eathon plays soccer and video games.

  • Donald joined Columbia University in 2009 and is Chef Manager for Chef Don's Pizza Pi, Chef Mike's Sub Shop at Uris Deli, Blue Java Mudd, Blue Java Uris, 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.

  • Dionne joined the Columbia Dining team in 2018 as a short order cook, eventually becoming Assistant Manager in December 2022. Dionne brings to the role over a decade of experience in the food service and hospitality industry. She has worked in various roles such as a preschool cooking teacher, cook at IHOP and McDonald's, and manager of four locations in the Food and Nutrition Department of the Department of Education.

    Dionne is originally from Brooklyn and enjoys traveling internationally, cooking with family, and spending time with friends. Dionne is excited to hear from students and learn new ways she can make their Dining experience memorable!

  • Derrick Murphy is the Chef De Cuisine at Teachers College. He joined the team in March 2024 and is responsible for growing and enhancing the dining experience in Grace Dodge Dining Hall, Everett Library Cafe, and catered events.

    Previously, Derrick led field level premium catering operations at Yankees Stadium in the Bronx. He brings a wealth of culinary experience from fifteen years working in New York City restaurants, including the opening of The Lobster Club at 375 Park Avenue with Chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torissi, as well as serving as the Executive Chef at Tommy Bahama on Fifth Avenue. Derrick also has several years of corporate catering experience. 

    Derrick served as a guest chef for a night on a festival cruise ship, preparing a Hawaiian luau menu inspired by his year spent living on the island of Oahu. In his free time, he likes to attend live music performances, jog in Central Park, and prepare meals for friends and family. 

  • Daphne has been with Columbia Dining since 2018. Previously, she worked at University of Michigan Dining, where she also completed her bachelor’s degree. Her favorite thing about working for Columbia Dining is getting to put special events together for the students. Daphne’s favorite food is enchiladas de mole and outside of work she enjoys spending time with her two cats, reading, and hiking.

  • Dan joined the Columbia Dining team in November 2023. He brings over 12 years of higher education food service experience to his role. Throughout his career, Dan has always strived to provide quality food and exceptional customer service, focusing on building meaningful relationships with all dining hall guests. When he's not in the kitchen, you will find him enjoying nature with his Siberian Husky or building Legos with his kids. When asked what his favorite dish or recipe to cook is, he simply replies by saying "the next one," as a tribute to Tom Brady who responded the same when asked which Super Bowl was his favorite. 

  • Curtis Jenkins joined Columbia Dining in September 2023 and currently manages the overnight service at JJ's Place. Previously, he was a General Manager for a fast, casual chain restaurant. Curtis believes the food industry picked him, as he originally wanted to use his degree in business management for a role within marketing. He discovered his passion for food while working as a dishwasher and eventually worked his way up to management. Curtis is excited to continue his journey to learn and grow, while bringing his food and service skills to all of JJ's guests. In his spare time, Curtis loves taking his son to NBA and WNBA games. They are huge fans of New York Liberty.  

  • Christina joined the Columbia Dining 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.

  • Christian was born and raised in Queens, N.Y., and graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in 2015 with a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree in Culinary Arts Management. During his career, he has worked in restaurants, hotels, catering & events, and since 2017, at educational institutions. He enjoys traveling – with trips to both Europe and Asia – and camping. In his free time, Christian likes trying new restaurants and creating new dishes at home. 

  • Chonyi joined Columbia Dining in September 2023 as General Manager of JJ's Place. He brings to the role several years of experience in the hospitality industry, serving in manager and general manager positions in both hotels and restaurants. Chonyi's favorite aspect of his job is seeing guests leave the dining hall with a smile. He is passionate about providing the best experience possible for all guests. Outside of work, Chonyi enjoys spending time with his family, including going to the beach and taking short trips to upstate New York to explore local farms!

  • Charles joined the Columbia Dining team in December 2022. Previously he worked managing restaurants in New York City and in the Catskill Mountains area. He holds a BFA in musical theater and has performed in national tours and Off-Broadway shows. He is originally from Central Illinois and his favorite food is meatloaf. In his spare time, Charles enjoys exploring NYC with his French bulldog, Barnaby.

  • Cesar Jara joined the Columbia Dining team in July 2023. He brings over 13 years of barista experience to the role, working at a wide range of cafés throughout the New York City area. Cesar is extremely passionate about coffee and in 2014, was named the "Most Electrifying Barista in NYC" by Dine and Unwind. Outside of work, he loves learning the history of just about anything (animals, places, countries, you name it)! 

  • Bruce Addison joined the Columbia Dining team in August 2023. Previously, Bruce was a restaurant consultant in Fort Worth, Texas and brings over 25 years of hospitality industry experience to his role. He is excited to provide an exceptional dining experience to everyone who sets foot into JJ's Place. After hours, Bruce is an avid wresting, boxing, and football fan. Go Chiefs!

  • Arabia Amari joined the Columbia Dining team at Teachers College in February 2024. She began her culinary career as a cook at a nursing home and eventually worked her way up to director of food service. Growing up in Astoria, Queens, Arabia was introduced to cuisine from all over the world which sparked her love for trying new foods. In 2008, she welcomed her daughter to the world and her love for sampling foods grew into a passion for cooking and trying new recipes. Arabia is thrilled to be a part of the Grace Dodge team, and excited for future endeavors at Columbia. 

  • Andrew joined the Columbia Dining team in November 2023. He is excited to enhance students' dining experiences at Ferris Booth Commons, drawing on his prior role as the Manager of the Executive Dining Room at Credit Suisse with Aramark. With over a decade in the hospitality industry, including stints at prestigious hotels like The Pierre, InterContinental New York Barclay, and Park Lane Hotel New York, his passion for providing top tier dining services is second nature. He is a devoted dog lover, and his rat terrier, Spike, holds a special place in his heart. Having traveled to France multiple times, French cuisine has become his favorite, which he would love to incorporate into the menu at Ferris. 

  • Alexa recently joined Columbia Dining as our registered dietitian. She helps ensure that everyone can find healthy options at all Columbia Dining locations, and is available to consult with students one-on-one regarding healthier eating habits, navigating the dining halls if you have a food allergy, and any other nutritional concerns.

  • 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.

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