Day in the Life: Linda Campbell

- Vimala Jeevanandam

Eight years ago, when Linda Campbell was first charged with revamping the menu of Village Greens—UVic’s vegetarian and vegan food outlet—she had a clear idea of what she wanted to accomplish.  

“It is important to me that people who have different needs—who have allergies or are vegan or vegetarian—get a meal that is on par with other meals that we do.” 

At the time, Village Greens offered stir-fries, but the menu was limited. “It didn’t offer a lot of variety to our vegetarian and vegan community,” she says. “I wanted to provide something exciting and delicious that you couldn’t get elsewhere in the city.”

It was with that vision that Campbell worked with the Executive Chef and Food Services management team to reshape and expand Village Greens’ offerings over the years. They now offer curries as well as rotating daily specials, making the spot a favourite among vegans, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. 

“I created themes to give the menu structure,” she says of the daily specials. “I tried to make the lunch items hand-held items that were easy to take to-go, while the dinners were more of a sit-down meal.”

It’s with the same relentless attention to detail and organization that she approaches all aspects of her job. As a Cook IV, now at Mystic Market, her job might be known as a saucier off campus. She starts her day at 6 a.m., heating up what the kiosks will need for the day. She then prepares, from scratch, the curry pastes, marinades and sauces that make the basis of many of the dishes used to feed UVic’s hungry campus community. 

The quantities of food she’s working with are hard to imagine for those of us used to cooking in a home kitchen. Campbell and her team regularly prepare batches of 60 litres of Alfredo and marinara sauce from standardized recipes.

“For a home cook, the biggest meal you might prepare is for Thanksgiving or Christmas, cooking for a group of 20,” she explains. “It’s always a challenge to figure out how much to make, and you always cook too much.”

Then scale that up to feed the thousands of people who come through Mystic Market every day, and you’ll understand the challenge of managing the bustling facility. To avoid waste, while making sure that none of the kiosks run out of food, she carefully tracks each item. 

“It’s a delicate balance of being a step ahead of what we need. We have to communicate as a team to make sure everyone has what they need to run that day,” she remarks. “It’s my favourite part of the job.” 

Campbell started in food service in hotels in Alberta cooking for large scale banquets of 500-900 people. “I like to be really organized, and part of my job involves organizing the production team,” she says. 

After 10 years with University Food Services, she has a thorough knowledge and a deep pride in the food she prepares. 

“Not a lot of people in the community know they can come to Mystic Market and get great food for amazing prices.”

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Keywords: diet, staff, administrative, day in the life

Publication: The Ring


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