Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Catering manager livens up Chartwells

Chris Jarreau sat in her small office in the back of the Sundower. Papers filled her desk and needed organizing.
It was a busy day, but three weeks into her new position, Jarreau is used to her job’s daily grind. She’s been doing it for 30 years, and she hasn’t been happy doing anything else.

“Every time I get away from it and do something else, I always come right back,” Jarreau said.

Jarreau said cooking was just a hobby of hers. She would cook for her family and friends. “I never intended to get into catering, it just happened,” she said.

Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Jarreau remembers going to LSU football games with her father. Her eyes widen.
“There’s no place better to be on a Saturday night than Death Valley [Tiger Stadium],” she said.

In Baton Rouge, Jarreau also developed an appreciation for their famous Cajun cuisine. Jarreau said she plans on bringing popular Cajun dishes to Plattsburgh.

Jarreau raised her son and daughter in Mississippi, and that’s where she had her first catering business specializing in weddings for 25 years.

Along the way, Jarreau had to make some sacrifices. She left Mississippi and moved to North Carolina so that her daughter could get in-state tuition for college.

While living there, Jarreau became the director of catering at the University of North Carolina in Asheville. For a short time Jarreau was in the oil and gas industries doing legal work.

“It was not my thing — real boring. I was in a court house all day,” she said. “I couldn’t talk at all.”

Her experience there reignited her desire to get back into the catering business. When her old boss Danny Dawkins from UNC at Asheville called and asked her to come to Plattsburgh, she said it was a no-brainer.

“I’ve known Chris for seven years and worked with her for three”, Dawkins, now the District Manager for Chartwells, said.
Despite both of them going their separate ways, Dawkins said they’ve kept in touch over the years.

“Plattburgh and UNC Asheville share a lot of the same characteristics, and that’s why I thought Chris would be a good fit,” Dawkins said. “She brightens up the day of customers and the people she’s working with.”

But for Jarreau, her favorite part of the job is working with the students.

“She loves working with the student body and planning their events,” Scott Hughes, Plattsburgh State’s Resident District Manager, said. “It could be as small as a club meeting to as large as a banquet.”

Wayne Duprey, Executive Director of College Auxiliary Services at PSUC, said Jarreau is in charge of the “front of the house,” which involves interacting with customers and making sure the services are meeting expectations.

“She’s people-oriented, outgoing and extremely personable,” Duprey said. He remembers when they hosted the R.D.’s and R.A.’s after their first night of training, and Jarreau introduced herself wearing a crown. The students dubbed her the “Queen of Catering.”

“I’m pleased with the way she is integrating herself in the campus community,” Duprey said.

“I feel people in the catering business have a special gene — there’s something in me,” Jareau said. “I get personal satisfaction out of it. It’s just how an artist has to draw … I have to do this, it’s just who I am.”
Jarreau said she is still on the journey she started 10 years ago.

“I’m on an adventure, and Plattsburgh’s part of my adventure.”

Email David Luces at

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