Alan Mallett makes waves as Director of Food Services



Alan Mallett ensures quality control in the cafeteria.

Ellison Albright, Staff Writer

An avid motorcyclist and chef for 40 years, Alan Mallett plays an integral role in getting food to the St. John’s cafeteria. As Director of Food Services, he is responsible for ensuring food makes it to students’ and teachers’ plates, managing the budget and running the cafeteria as efficiently as possible. Mallett is always in the kitchen during peak times, using his experience as a chef while directing the staff. 

“He sets such a good standard,” said Adam May, the head chef at St. John’s. “He’s out there every time we’re busy.”

From hailstorms to hurricanes, the cafeteria has faced various challenges in recent years. Armed with experience from previous disasters, Mallett makes certain the staff is prepared for anything that could come their way. 

“It’s like turning a big ship around,” Mallett said. “It takes a long time to get comfortable doing that.” 

Guided by Mallett’s leadership, the cafeteria staff has met these obstacles head-on, making the most of the unforeseen situations. While they have been prepared for nearly anything, no one could have foreseen the pandemic that arrived in March of 2020.

“We were used to one thing, and then Covid hit,” May said. “It just turned everything upside down.” 

The coronavirus has been the largest setback that Mallett has faced during his four-and-a-half-year tenure at St. John’s. The cafeteria had to quickly pivot from full service to boxed lunches.

“It was a challenge at first,” Mallett said, “but the team came together really quick.” 

The pandemic was hard enough, but the ripple effects of millions of businesses and restaurants, such as the St. John’s cafeterias, switching to to-go services has caused unprecedented supply chain issues. This spike in demand has been coupled with backed-up ports and truck-driver shortages.

“We are still struggling with supply chain issues,” May said.

From a scarcity of plasticware to cereal costing 60 dollars to ship, these issues have manifested themselves in various ways. Despite all the trouble that supply chain issues have caused, Mallett is beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

“As far as the supply chain goes, it’s gotten a lot better since we’ve been back to school,” Mallett said.   

While the supply chain slowly is repairing itself, a new crisis has arisen. Wheat prices have skyrocketed to three times the regular price because of the war in Ukraine, which produces much of the world’s grain. These rising costs are predicted to keep rising as harvest season approaches.

While still a large part of the job, avoiding obstacles is not a common occurrence. Most of the time, Mallett’s time is devoted to making sure all the food needed for the week is ordered and arrives on time. He and May also collaborate to determine the menu.

Mallett came to St. John’s after a long career as a chef at various restaurants, including his own, Cafe Noche. He has also worked at universities across the south, such as Texas A&M Prairie View and Xavier University in New Orleans, as well as working at The John Cooper School. While the transition from being a chef to organizing them was different, Mallett has enjoyed the change.

“This is the best of both worlds,” Mallett said. “I can still dabble in the kitchen when I want to. But I enjoy the management part of it also.”

Mallett’s passion for the food industry shines through in his love of his job.

“I really enjoy the environment and the students. I look forward to coming to work,” Mallett said. “This is the greatest job ever.”