1. K-State home
  2. »College of Human Ecology
  3. »News
  4. »K-State student earns fellowship from Kappa Omicron Nu honor society - College of Human Ecology News

College of Human Ecology

K-State student earns fellowship from Kappa Omicron Nu honor society

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

MANHATTAN -- After being a chef for 20 years, David Olds traded his toque for a textbook.

Instead of stirring roux and stuffing alligator sausage, he analyzes research data and grades paper. Olds is a doctoral candidate in the department of hotel, restaurant, institution management and dietetics at Kansas State University.

He has been awarded the Hettie Margaret Anthony Doctoral Fellowship from Kappa Omicron Nu, the national honor society for students in the human sciences. The fellowship recognizes quality scholarship and potential for leadership.

"This is a most prestigious award and Dave is a worthy recipient. Kappa Omicron Nu has made a wise investment in his future as a researcher and faculty member," said Deborah Canter, head of K-State's department of hotel, restaurant, institution management and dietetics. "We are very proud of him."

Olds, Manhattan, is president of the K-State Graduate Student Council. In 2006, he received the Golden Key Graduate Teaching Assistant Award for his commitment to education.

When he was 10, his mother, Rosemary B. Olds, started a doctoral program in English and Olds started to cook for his family. "Mom used to tell people I came home from kindergarten and made French toast," he said.

As a chef, Olds ran the smokehouse and food operation for Hickory Park Restaurant in Ames, Iowa, and worked in catering and management. He has cooked in a variety of Iowa restaurants, including Sheffield's Bistro and the French Quarter Bar and Restaurant.

Plus, he has bought and sold antiques.

A graduate of the Iowa Culinary Institute in Des Moines, Olds headed to graduate school at Iowa State University, thinking he would teach at a culinary school. But professors at Iowa State convinced him to go for his doctorate.

"I'd have an advantage in the job market and I realized I enjoy doing research," he said. "I like playing around in the lab, doing research that benefits society."

Restaurant work convinced Olds that food safety education is important.

His current research involves the relationship of ethnic food beliefs and restaurant selection. His master's thesis focused on food borne illnesses.

Retail food service serves 70 billion meals a year and takes in more than $511 billion. "We could use improvements in food safety," Olds said.

Olds grew up aware of the importance of safe food handling. His father, Dr. John W. Olds, is an infectious disease physician.

Another concern for Olds is keeping "green."

"In our personal lives, we recycle, watch energy consumption and do other things to conserve the environment," he said. "The hospitality industry needs to have the same consciousness. Decisions managers make will affect our natural resources," he said.

Olds teaches Environmental Issues in Hospitality II.

"It's the 'green' class,'" he said. "I talk to students about the long-term consequences of decisions they will make -- decisions about waste, energy, water and air. The decisions also will affect the economy of the restaurant.

"If in doubt, throw it out," Olds repeated the food safety mantra. "Throwing it out costs; keeping it costs more," he said.

Does Olds miss being a chef?

"I miss having a large, well-stocked kitchen and I miss cooking for customers," he said. "But restaurant work is demanding to be successful. You're at the restaurant all the time."

As a graduate student, Olds said he exercises his culinary muscles only if the menu involves one pan and five minutes. "I actively support local eating establishments," he joked.

Each Thanksgiving, he cooks turkey for his family, a process that takes two days. "I make my own stock for dressing and gravy," he said.

Olds has no plans to re-don his chef's hat. "This work is challenging and it's important," he said.

Sources: David Olds, daveolds@k-state.edu;
Jane Marshall, 785-532-1519, jpm2@k-state.edu
Photo available. Contact media@k-state.edu or 785-532-6415

This article was posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2007, and is filed under Hospitality Management.