Joseph “Showtime Joe” Hatfield, beloved Saga cook and kibitzer extraordinaire, received Sodexo’s “Circle of Customer Excellence Award” for the Northeast region for his outstanding customer service.
“It is really something to be proud of; I’m very happy for him,” says Lynn Pelkey, the Dining Services general manager. “I don’t have any doubt in my mind: he is what customer service is all about. He’s a good cook, he cares, he’s charismatic. Students wait in line to talk with him. He’s definitely a gem to have on our campus.”
Hatfield, a Detroit native raised in Geneva with his four siblings, got his first job at the Colleges at 17, washing dishes in the days when the kitchen was still in Gulick Hall.
“Even though I was doing well in high school,” says Hatfield, “I left to start working full-time in the dish room to help my Mom make ends meet and never had any remorse about it.”
After just one year at the Colleges, Hatfield went to work in several Geneva-area kitchens, including Mario’s, where he worked for 13 years.
“Looking back, I regret not staying here at the Colleges,” he says, though he admits that he learned a lot of different cooking techniques in the years away.
Five years ago, soon after he returned to campus as a chef in the kitchen, Hatfield was asked to cook at the Showtime station in the main dining room.
“I’d never worked outside of a kitchen,” he says, “so I was surprised when I was so welcomed by the students.”
It wasn’t long before the students had coined a nickname for him and his bosses had his uniforms embroidered with the legend “Showtime Joe.”
He has subsequently been profiled in The Herald and has proctored the annual HWS Iron Chef competition.
Last year, in the annual Hobart tradition of inducting an HWS community member into the graduating class, Hatfield was made an honorary member of the Hobart Class of 2008 and received the Hobart oar given to all graduating Hobart men.
“His honorary membership in our class is truly symbolic,” said former Student Trustee Neil Wakeman ’08. “He’s an all-around great guy and he’s left each and every one of us with fond memories of our time at the Colleges.”
“After the ceremony,” Hatfield said, “I hung the oar on a wall next to my four sons’ birth certificates. The induction was so important because it really shows the students’ respect for me. And to me, that is more important than any other kind of reward.”
Now, Hatfield can add to the same wall the “Circle of Customer Excellence Award” and the plaque he received from Campus Services, as more recognition of the respect, appreciation and fondness students have for “Showtime Joe.”