Keith Smith Honored with Global Engagement Award

Keith Smith was recently honored with the Outstanding Global Engagement Award from the Office of Global Engagement, in recognition of his outstanding work developing cultural events in the dining halls.  We caught up with Keith to learn a little more about his work with Global Engagement and student groups on campus.

Keith believes that global meals and special events are part of the dining halls’ mission as an educational platform and a wonderful way to engage NC State’s diverse student body.  He also stressed that cultural events are a true partnership between the culinary talent of the dining staff and the cultural knowledge and vision of departments or student organizations.  “We’re really good at making the food, and we know food engages people.  We rely on other people to help us build the menu and make sure it is culturally appropriate.”

One recent event that stood out was celebrating Iranian New Year.  Keith said he enjoyed showcasing a culture that didn’t have as much visibility on campus, and was excited to see that the event brought new people into the dining halls for the first time.  He also felt that it was a great creative challenge for the chef and culinary team to learn new recipes, which can extend beyond the one-time event.  New recipes and cooking techniques can become incorporated into regular menus, which creates variety and helps serve the diverse tastes of the student body.

Keith also shared how much he has enjoyed seeing staff get engaged in the process.  It is especially fun for him to see events that give staff an opportunity to connect to their own cultural heritage and share with one another.

Shawn Hoch, Senior Director of Hospitality Services, said that he appreciates Keith’s work partnering with student organizations and the Office of Global Engagement to celebrate cultures through food. “It has been a great partnership in bridging academics, students and dining to promote inclusion and collaboration. Great job to Keith and the dining team that helped bring the vision to life!”

Indeed, Keith was quick to say that it’s his team that deserves most of the credit. “Staff do so much of the work and put a lot of effort and care into it, he said, ” This is really an award for Dining in all that we do to engage the campus.”