Everyday Heroes: Sodexho Bakers

Posted: July 3, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Colleen Kearney Rich

Tuyet Truong
Tuyet Truong prepares all the food sold at Jazzman’s in the Johnson Center.

Name: Tuyet Truong

Years at Mason: 13

Current Position: Baker

What She Does: Tuyet Truong prepares all the food sold at Jazzman’s in the Johnson Center. She bakes the goodies that are displayed in the glass case and prepares the sandwiches and salads. Before Jazzman’s opened four years ago, she prepared desserts for Student Union Building II eateries and the Food Court in the Johnson Center.

Her Life before Mason: Truong started working at Mason roughly one month after arriving in the United States from her native Vietnam. In Vietnam, she was a clerk typist at an American company, so she knew English before she moved here.

What You Might Not Know about Her Job: She traveled to Pennsylvania for specific training on how to prepare the food for the Jazzman’s on campus. All the recipes for Jazzman’s are trademarked. Each day she makes muffins, cookies and scones following these recipes, which she knows by heart. “I don’t even have to look at them anymore,” she says and laughs. The baked goods sold at other food outlets on campus such as La Patisserie have their own specific recipes and bakers.

What She Likes Best about Her Job: The people. “Everyone here works together, and the people are very friendly,” she says. She also really appreciates the managers at Sodexho. She says they are very good with the employees and give plenty of compliments and positive feedback.

Her Favorite Confections to Make: The Black Forest muffins and the fruit turnovers.

All in the Family: When they began adding Jazzman’s at the other campuses, it was soon too much for one person. Truong helped recruit and train her sister, Hanh, for the job. Her sister, who works a different shift, prepares the food for the Jazzman’s at the Arlington and Prince William Campuses.

On Keeping Pace: Truong enjoys the leisurely pace of summer when Jazzman’s doesn’t open until 2 p.m. each day. During the academic year, Truong spends most of her shift cooking, baking and restocking to keep ahead of hungry students, faculty and staff. “During school, there is always a line. It only takes them about two, maybe three, hours to sell out of everything.”

What She Does for Fun: Go out to eat! After cooking all day, Truong frequently finds herself preparing the evening meal and doing additional cooking when she gets home, so on weekends the family dines out. She enjoys going out for Chinese food. The Golden Corral is one of her favorite restaurants, and she also has some favorite Vietnamese restaurants in Seven Corners.

Bong Tran
Bong Tran prepares all the baked goods served at events and parties catered by Sodexho at Mason.

Name: Bong Tran

Years at Mason: 17

Current Position: Baker

What She Does: Tran prepares all the cakes, cookies and other treats served at events and parties catered by Sodexho at Mason. Last week, she made the strawberry shortcake for Judy Jobbitt’s farewell party as well as a table full of Rice Krispies Treats for Orientation.

Her Life before Mason: Tran worked as a cook at a restaurant in Arlington. She and her family came to the United States from her native Vietnam in 1979. She and Tuyet Truong are sisters-in-law. They also are good friends and take their breaks together each day.

What You Might Not Know about Her Job: She is the baker behind some of the university’s most memorable cakes, including the cake replica of the Johnson Center that was served for the building’s 10th anniversary. Kitchen lore has it that Tran can make any kind of cake you want — just bring her a picture.

What She Likes Best about Her Job: Her co-workers. “The people here are good,” she says, adding that the camaraderie helps things go more smoothly and work more efficiently on the really hectic days.

Most Popular Cakes: Based on orders and feedback, Tran’s banana nut cake is a big hit. Her strawberry shortcakes are also favorites.

Just the Stats, Ma’am: Although Tran doesn’t like to talk about herself or her productivity, catering manager Berry Kochar is more than happy to brag about her accomplishments. Kochar still marvels about the day Tran produced 14 cakes. “And these were big cakes, sheet cakes,” he says, indicating the dimensions. “And they were all beautiful.” He also talks about the day she made 1,200 cookies.

On Baking at Home: Forget about it. While her cakes and cookies are a hit on campus, Tran’s two grown children lost interest in sweets years ago. “They got tired of it,” she says. “They were like, ‘Oh, Mom.’”

Thoughts on the Food Network: Tran couldn’t choose just one chef on the Food Network she liked more than the others, but she did admit a preference for programs with desserts. “I really like to watch them decorate cakes.”

What She Does for Fun: When not in the kitchen of the ground floor of the Johnson Center, Tran likes to spend time with her grandchildren. This new generation of Trans can’t get enough of her baked treats.

What People Say about Truong and Tran:

“Bong and Tuyet are two of the critical backstage players on campus. The things that they’ve created for various departments and efforts over the years have rendered people speechless. The quality of their work is reflected in the taste and appearance of their product, from the Jazzman’s scones that no one can believe are baked on campus, to the sheet cakes that are a traditional, essential ingredient for celebrations of any kind. There is nothing like baking with attention to detail and care for the customer to build a reputation for great taste and presentation, and Bong and Tuyet have been doing it for years.”

—Michael Galvin, Marketing and Community Affairs Manager, Dining Services

“Tuyet is a sweet person and a dedicated employee. She always works with a smile and is an asset to our team. I love taste-testing all her new creations.”

—Christina Matthews, Bistro Manager, Dining Services

“Bong’s cakes are always spectacular. She makes special occasions even more special. The strawberry shortcake she made for Judy Jobbitt’s party would rival any fancy bakery in the country. She does everything with such good humor and puts her all into everything she does.”

—Barbara Lubar, Executive Director, Events Management

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