Staff Spotlight – Chef Casey Johnson

Executive Chef Casey Johnson is passionate not only about his craft, but about his job here at Miami and his family. He is one of five executive chefs on campus and he takes care of Armstrong Student Center,  Bell Tower Commons, and King Cafe – Armstrong being the place he spends most of his time.

What is your background like? Personal/Professional?

I am from Sylvania, Ohio right outside of Toledo. I went right out of high school to culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. From there I did my externship at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, which is a big hunting/equestrian high-end style resort. After graduating, I did an MIT (manager in training) program at school and was a sous chef for a restaurant on campus. After moving back to Toledo with my wife, I held a sous chef position at a local country club and an Italian restaurant called Mancy’s for 3-4 years. After my time at Mancy’s, I accepted a food and beverage director/executive chef position at the Hilton Garden Inn in Findlay. My wife was then accepted into a position here at Miami, then I was lucky enough to accept a position here a year ago in October.

What is the most exciting part about the job?

Not just in this job, but in the industry in general, you learn something new every day. I am not a desk person and I don’t like sitting still, which is perfect for this industry.

What made you decide to be a chef?

I don’t really know. I am the only chef in the family other than a far extended cousin. I always grilled with my dad and baked with my mom, but neither of my parents are culinarians. I grew up on your basic mid-west style cooking with mayonnaise-based casseroles and flank steak (haha). I am not sure on what made me want to do it, but it is probably a love from the arts. I wanted to be a zoologist, then a photographer, then an architect, focusing my mind on the arts.

How would you describe your relationship with the guests?

Friendly! I love talking and working with the guests. Some people would be shocked to find out I’m introverted, but that’s because I’ve challenged myself to be extroverted to improve my overall communication. As a food and beverage director prior, I had to work directly with guests, which improved my customer service. I’m still getting used to seeing so many students, even though we have some regulars, it’s a joy to meet new people everyday.

What is your favorite thing about MU Dining?

I like the diversity of it! I think that working within the department and with the direction we are going, it’s going to get even more diverse. I know most dining has pizza or stir-fry, but we get to do new and exciting dishes here – with more to come! I helped collaborate with the opening of 4 new concepts in Armstrong – the Toasted Bagel, Cafe Lux, Red Zone, and Haines update.

How would you describe yourself personally?

I am passionate. If we talk food, I can talk all day due to my passion for the industry itself. I drive myself because of my passions and for the food industry. I definitely take my pride for work home and instill the idea of passion to my daughter as much as I can. Honestly, I genuinely love hanging out and cooking with my daughter because I’m a family man. I like to cook at home as well but not as high-end cuisine.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

I really enjoy photography. Since the industry is so busy, it’s tough to have hobbies outside of work, but I’ve recently picked up photography again. I definitely want to start hiking and biking more because I really like spending time outside. Doing activities help me to clear my mind from the busy weeks I have.

What is your favorite dish to prepare? To eat?

Parmesan Risotto. The simplicity comes with its ingredients, but it’s a dish that takes passion to execute properly. As far as a favorite dish to eat, that changes all the time. I prefer cooking Italian though. I was trained more in Italian-style of cooking. The French-style is to take the ingredients and make it their own, while the Italian-style is to take the ingredients and enhance the flavor that is naturally there.

What is your favorite TV show?

I’ve always watched House and can habitually watch it. The Office is also one of my favorites. I enjoy the comedy in both.

Cat or dog?

I am a dog person. I have a wheaten terrier at home. I am allergic to cats and dogs in a way.

Any advice for people applying/working for MU Dining?

This is a great place to work! You’re not going to find better benefits and community in this area. We want people to apply and want people here. It requires time on your feet and work ethic, but it pays well and has a welcoming feel to it.


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Student Spotlight – Haley Hamilton

What is your title/role for Dining?

I am currently the student Manager at Maplestreet Station.

What is your background like? Personal/Professional? Major?

I am from Dayton, Ohio and have been there my whole life. When I was growing up in school, I would always be at friends houses hanging out. Back in high school, I worked at Dairy Queen which was really fun. Right now I’m majoring in Spanish, International Studies, and Latin American Studies. And yes, I know that is a lot, but I love to keep busy at all times.

How did you get into the food service? Any prior experience?

I never really pictured myself continuing in the food service, but I ended up doing so when I got here! Like I said before, I worked at a Dairy Queen. When I came to college I thought why not just add another thing to do outside of school and so I applied for this job and started working in dining since freshman year. It’s been a blast!

What is the most exciting part of the job?

What I think is cool is that there is something different every day I come in so it never gets boring. There are a good amount of people who work in the dining services, so I get to meet new people and get to know them more, which is a great bonus. It’s never dull!

How would you describe your relationship with the student employees?

They’re literally the best. For me as an extrovert, I try to get to know as many of them as I can personally because I feel like we’re both interdependent on each other. This job allows for teamwork and dependence and I love that.

How would you describe your relationship with guests?

I find that with my personality and job overall, it allows me to talk with the guests with ease. It has been super fun to get to know people and see some regulars that come and go when I work.

What is your favorite thing about MU Dining?

I genuinely love my coworkers! Each of them are like family to me and I can go to them when I have any struggles with school or any questions about work. They are so fun and love to have a good time and make memorable moments.

How would you describe yourself (personally)?

I think I’m a pretty outgoing person. That’s probably the best word to describe me. I love to have a good time and hang out with friends in my free time. I also enjoy traveling and I want to travel everywhere. I like to try new things as well like new foods, new experiences, new sports, all the above. It keeps me busy like I said.

What are some of your hobbies? Interests?

I love watching soccer on tv but you won’t catch me playing FIFA because video games aren’t really my forte… But I also like to experience new foods I have not tried before. There are so many kinds of foods out there and I feel like there are very few foods I’m not a fan of, to be honest. I love hiking and the going to the beach as well. The beach is super relaxing so living on or around a beach would be ideal.

What is your favorite dish to prepare? To eat?

Wow, that’s a tough one. I think my favorite dish to prepare would have to be stir-fry. I love stir-fry! It’d have to be my favorite food to eat as well. It’s just too good.

Favorite TV show?

The Office. Hands down. I mean, who doesn’t love The Office?

Cat or dog?

Dogs forever! They are just too cute and adorable and they make the best companions.

Cake or pie?

Cake is okay I guess but ice cream is heavenly. Ice cream is my favorite out of those two.

What have you learned so far?

Being patient and laid back is the only way to make it through the week because things will never go completely as planned. Just take it one step at a time and go with the flow but stay on top of things. That helps for school too outside of work.

Any advice for applying/working for MU Dining?

The people are awesome and we are always hiring new people! Just stop in and ask to speak to a student manager for more information about the application process. It’s super simple, easy, and you can dive right in! They are super flexible too, which is helpful if you’re busy like me.


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Healthy Miami Dinner Recap

Thank you to everyone who made the Healthy Miami Dinner at Western Dining Commons a success! This dinner showcased healthier items from around campus, all in one place. The Crawford’s were in attendance among a great crowd of students. We are glad you all enjoyed the vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and other nutritious foods!

Make sure to follow us to stay informed with dining news and upcoming events on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TheMiamiSpread blog!

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Count on Dividends

Even if you haven’t been in the Farmer School of Business, surely you’ve heard of the iconic Dividends. And inside that iconic Dividends, everyone knows of the salad bar on the left-hand side. You might as well run over there now because that is home of a Traders’ Greens salad bar station.

Traders’ Greens offers a wide variety of options to place in a to-go salad bowl, which is a staple for Miami’s on-campus dining options. From tangy-flavored creations to loaded bowls of meat with a little amount of salad, you have countless possibilities and combinations. Just to start out, this salad bar has over 50 toppings to choose from! Just think about it. You could go there every day for months on end and get an entirely different salad combination. Talk about decisions.

Do you want fruit in your salad? Done. Do you want chicken, bacon, and ranch in your salad? Done. Do you want to feel like you can make it however you want it? Done. You can mix and match the type of lettuce you prefer, add toppings on toppings, then drizzle or douse your salad in whichever dressing you fancy. You might indulge in some salad bowls, or you might want to be a healthy salad eater for a day. Either way, it has you covered.

Now we know there are days where you are rushing to get to a meeting or class and you have NO time to stop and make your own salad. At every market and numerous dining locations there are convenient pre-made salads you can grab to-go with salad dressing choices galore on the side! Try not to get overwhelmed by the options available. Just grab it, swipe it, and you’re out of there.

Notice throughout this entire article the idea of variety and the endless possibilities are reassured. That is because Miami strives for excellence and perfection when it comes to the variety of options and choices in dining. We hope by the end of this article you are in line for a sensational salad bowl at Traders’ Greens or zooming through a market for a pre-made salad!


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Healthy Miami Dinner Menu

Join us for the Healthy Miami Dinner on November 8th, 5 to 8pm at Western Commons! This dinner will showcase some of the healthier options that are served all across campus regularly.

We want students, faculty and staff to be aware of the low-calorie, vegan, vegetarian, and nutritious food items that are available daily! Mark your calendars and we will see you there for the Healthy Miami Dinner at Western Commons.Healthy Miami Dinner


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Halloween Dinner Recap

Our 4-night Halloween Dinner celebration was a success! We hope everyone had a great time being surrounded by the decorations and eating delicious pumpkin desserts. Thank you to all the staff in Martin, Garden, Maplestreet, and Western Commons for doing such a great job!

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Join us for our next special dinner, Healthy Miami Dinner, on November 8th from 5 -8pm at Western Commons!


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Favorite Halloween Candy

Happy Halloween! Costumes will wander the streets tonight, spooky haunted houses all around, and most importantly, CANDY! People fixate on an important question around this time of year – a question with a not-so-easy answer. “Which Halloween candy is your favorite?” From the throwback Flavored Tootsie Rolls and Twizzlers to the all-time classics such as Snickers, Skittles, Candy Corn, M&M’s, Starburst, Milky Ways, the list could go on and on – but the debate never ends.

We decided to ask a couple hundred students what their favorite candy is to see who the real winners are! The results are in…. *drum roll*

The winner is KIT KATS!

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Out of all the students we surveyed, over 56% loved some crunchy Kit Kats!

Right behind the delicious Kit Kat is the famous Reese’s Peanut Butter cup with about 53% who said they love it.

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And finally in third place is the caramel filling, crunchy heaven. Twix! This candy bar was loved by 43% of the students surveyed.

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And finally, our favored members below the top three (in order of most to least votes):

M&M’s, Skittles, Starbursts, Snickers, Milky Way, Butterfingers, Nerds, Nestle Crunch, Candy Corn, Smarties, Twizzlers, Almond Joy, Tootsie Rolls, Jolly Ranchers, Jr. Mints, and Whoppers.

Now you know what to grab before it’s gone on the shelves! Happy Halloween!


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Trick or Treats

One of the reasons why Halloween is such an enjoyable holiday is because it gives us some opportunities to get creative. Whether it’s turning your place into a haunted house, designing the perfect costume, or creating creepy and terrifying treats for your guests, Halloween gets our brain-goo flowing. Here are a few impressive Halloween food ideas for revolting, yet delicious, treats and meals you can serve to guests or just make it to scare yourself.

What’s cool about these foods is that they are all delicious AND they look absolutely disgusting/terrifying. Whether it’s a murdered meatloaf, some crunchy slithery snakes, or oozing skeletons, these recipes are sure to wreak delicious havoc.

Scary Snake Bites

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Dead Man Meatloaf

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Freaky Hot Dog Fingers

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Pizza Skulls

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Bloody Good Cheesecake

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Slimy Jell-O-Snacks

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