How good is Siena’s food service? 

So good that Siena Fresh has been named one of three “Centers of Excellence” in the country by AVI Foodsystems, Inc., the College’s contracted food service provider. 

Siena, along with Oberlin College in Ohio and Wofford College in South Carolina, will now serve as a central location to offer new hire training, culinary innovation and more for peer institutions. AVI provides food service and hospitality operations to the education, health care, business and leisure sectors. 

Rachel Miller, senior director of dining services for Siena Fresh, said the College just hosted its first culinary training July 14-15, attended by more than 30 food service leaders from the region.

“The goal of the Centers of Excellence is to help AVI providers achieve and maintain consistently high standards in all areas of their operations,” said Miller. “I am beyond proud of the Siena team, who work incredibly hard and with immense pride. The recognition of Siena as a Center of Excellence is a direct result of their dedication.”

Vince Lombardi, (yep, that’s his real name) AVI’s executive vice president for education, leisure and entertainment, said Siena was selected as a Center for Excellence for several reasons.

“We chose Siena because of the student-centric nature of its operation, the partnership between the Siena campus community and AVI, the diversity of food programming, and the quality and passion of the management team at the account,” he said. “These sites will operate at the highest standards and serve as training sites for onboarding new management, and will pilot new developmental programs for team members with an emphasis on growth opportunities.” 

Gerald Waterman, campus executive chef at Siena, said he is excited to be part of a team that will assist in the training of other managers.

“We’re looking forward to our next steps on this exciting journey of helping AVI maintain its high standards,” he said.

Christopher Viggiano, production manager for Lonnstrom Dining Hall, noted that the culture at Siena Fresh has always been geared toward “teaching our team members.”  

“I’m really thrilled to see this big picture initiative coming to fruition,” he said of the first training session Siena held as a new Center of Excellence. “The culinary training we had this month was insightful and inspiring.”