‘Chef on Fire’ leaves Simpson for the East Coast

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by Alex McCarty and Kinsey Bak

The most popular man in Pfeiffer Dining Hall has decided to take his talents to the East Coast.

Eric Dickson, better known as “Chef on Fire,” has left Simpson College’s dining services and has taken a job in North Carolina. Dickson would not go into specifics on where he was going, but did say that he is going to a different type of food service.

“It’s a farm-to-table restaurant, everything is picked and cooked that day from this restaurant,” Dickson said. “Fish is caught fresh in the ocean that day.”

Dickson decided that cafeteria style dining service was not for him.

“I wanted to try corporate, but it’s just not for me,” Dickson said. “I’m a farm-to-table chef, my catering was all about that in Vermont and I thought that would be here, but it’s not.”

Todd Matthews, director of dining services, does not know exactly why Dickson is leaving, but said it had to do with the corporate culture at Chartwells.

“When he gave his notice he said he was a little tired of some of the politics you deal with in a big company, and how we (Chartwells) have to do things,” Matthews said. “I know there were some other issues that he didn’t quite go into.”

Matthews was very appreciative of Dickson’s time with Chartwells, and thought he was a great addition to the team.

“He’s been tremendous, I mean he’s been a great asset to us,” Matthews said. “We hate to see him go, but I’m not one to keep anyone from wanting to pursue other things. He’s been great and he’ll be sorely missed.”

Dickson had nothing bad to say about his time here working for Chartwells.

“This is was totally my choice, I have nothing bad to say about anyone here,” Dickson said. “It’s a good company to work for if you want to go up the chain.”

Dickson did mention that he wished the food was of higher quality, but he also explained that Chartwells is not completely to blame.

“If kids recycled better and only ate what was put on their plate, you could get steak here once a month, you could get seafood,” Dickson said. “If we continue to waste 5,000 pounds a month you are not going to see steak, that’s a fact.”

Besides missing working with a great company, Dickson said he will miss the students the most.

“I mean, I drive an hour and 15 minutes to work every day to see you guys, that’s dedication,” Dickson said. “I don’t do it for the money. I do it because I love to cook. I love to see the smiles on your faces (the students) as you guys wait 20-25 minutes in line. I see the empty plates and that to me, that is the best satisfaction ever.”

Matthews believes the students will miss Dickson and his creations as well.

“I can tell he has a good report with the students when they go through the line,” Matthews said. “He’s definitely built some friendships. A lot of people like to see him every day and like what he does.”

Senior Andy Jackson is a “Chef on Fire” regular and enjoyed his food.

“It’s actually ready-made food, the things people actually want to eat,” Jackson said.

Senior Cameron Scott is not only going to miss Dickson’s food, but also his personality.

“I’m going to miss Eric because he makes great food, is a very personable guy and the food was unprecedented here at Simpson College,” Scott said.

Matthews said that whoever steps into Dickson’s position will have big shoes to fill.

“It’s going to be awfully hard to replace him, and I think part of Eric’s charm is his stories,” Matthews said. “To find somebody else with his background and his stories is going to be awfully hard.”

Right now Chef Tasos Kyprianos is taking Dickson’s spot, but Chartwells is hoping to hire a new “Chef on Fire” in a timely fashion.

”We do have some pretty good candidates and we’re looking forward to the interviewing process and seeing what we can do,” Matthews said.