Q&A with Ben Geltzer
“Q&A with…” is a series dedicated to introducing staff members to the Oberlin community. Is there someone you’d like to nominate? Please get in touch.
Stevenson and Catering Executive Chef Ben Geltzer works in Campus Dining Services. He describes his role as multifaceted, as he manages production of anything that involves food or Bon Appétit. “Whether it’s Stevenson Dining Hall, campus catering, or in the other dining halls—I plan all of the menus, schedule staffing, and am a coach when it comes to teaching staff new things about food,” says Geltzer.
Before coming to Oberlin in March 2019, Geltzer worked for Capital University in Columbus. Prior to that, he worked at the Columbus Convention Center and in a variety of restaurants.
Get to know more about Geltzer in this Q&A.
What do you enjoy most about your role as a chef?
I enjoy the challenge, honestly. In a higher education culinary environment, there are so many different moving parts. I like the puzzle of putting it together and seeing how the team comes together to make it work.
What’s your favorite thing to cook, either in the dining hall or at home?
My favorite thing to cook is anything I’m making at home. When I’m at home, it usually means I’m cooking for a friend or a loved one. Cooking is such an intimate gesture, and it’s such a show of love between people when they sit down to share a meal. I also love cooking something I’ve never cooked before. If it comes out how I envisioned it would, then that’s a great thing.
I understand that this summer, you sourced ingredients from the Lorain County Fair, on behalf of Bon Appétit and Campus Dining Services—can you tell me about this?
Bon Appetit has been sourcing ingredients locally from the county fair for the past few years. This year, both the steer and the hog that we purchased there had a connection to Oberlin employees. The parent of the girl who raised the hog works for Campus Dining Services, and the father of the girl who raised the steer used to work for us.
Does anyone else source ingredients in this way, or are you the primary person?
Usually, John Klancar, director of operations, is the person who does this—he’s the one who has built all of the relationships at the Lorain County Fair, but I was able to take this on this year. It’s the first time I’ve done something like this.
Will students know when they are getting meals made from locally sourced items?
Yes, we’ll make a point of letting students know that this meal has been locally sourced. We’re going to make our own bacon from the pork belly, and we’ll probably cure our own ham. We’ll have plenty of ground beef that we’ll make into meatballs or meat sauce, and we may even make burger patties.
What’s the last thing that you cooked?
Chicken paprikash, made with herbs from my garden