Ashland University Catering and Conferences Department Receives First Place Award

Catering and Conferences

5/22/12 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University Catering and Conferences Department has received the first place award in the medium-sized schools division for the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) “Catering – Online Menu.”

Although Catering and Conferences has won the NACUFS division award 10 times and the grand prize twice, James Misel, general manager of catering and conferences, said that it is always exciting to win this competition.

“For many campus visitors, the catering department is their main interaction,” Misel said. “Therefore, it is imperative that we deliver quality and professional experiences that project well on the campus as a whole.”

This was the first year the NACUFS contest centered solely on each school’s online menu. To be considered for the award, the menu had to be online, created by the school and could not be used as a school-wide or company-wide menu.

There were two parts to the contest: a visual part worth 90 points, and an essay section worth 10 points. For the visual portion, nine areas were judged including categories that were based around the basic visual appeal, such as photographs of food and readability of the menu, as well as the physical “wow” factor of the menu.

Other categories included the specifics of food preparation and variety of food, like for those with allergies or special requests, and the logistics of planning events, such as locations, table settings and meal set-up (having a buffet meal versus a plated dinner).

The essay portion gave each school a chance to explain the business strategy used to complete the menu and how the menu supports that strategy. It also gave each school an opportunity to detail how its catering department distinguishes itself from others.

Misel, who managed the entry for the contest, said his essay mentioned that the new version of the menu showcases the many talents held within the Catering and Conference department. The new menu was developed by Ashland University’s award-winning chefs and catering managers and Misel feels that the department distinguishes itself by keeping ideas fresh and continually coordinating flawless events. 

As winner of the medium-sized school category, Ashland University now will compete against the large school winner, Virginia Tech, and the small school winner, Concordia University. The size of school depends on a number of items, including actual student population as well as amount of food purchased throughout the year and number of meals served.

“We really worked hard on this menu. It was definitely a very collaborative project,” Misel said. “Executive Sous Chef W. Brent Cline, Retail Sales Manager Valerie Zeno and I all put in a lot of time to perfect the menu.”

Misel said Zeno worked with AU’s Graphic Design area to form the layout of the menu and the visual aesthetics had a lot to do with EagleEye Photographer Allison Hoover. “She not only photographed all of the food and drinks featured in the menu, but aided in formatting the menu for the website. I was very confident with our entry and knew we would do well,” Misel said.

The menu is available online at For customer convenience, the menu can be viewed in sections, such as buffet items or boxed lunches, or viewed in its entirety. If you would like to plan the menu for your next event, please contact James Misel at 419-289-5915 or

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.