Chef brings culinary skills to Southern meals

Daniel Macrelli prepared a meal in the Lions Den. Macrelli is the new retail and catering manager with Sodexho.

Kristin Wilfing

Daniel Macrelli prepared a meal in the Lion’s Den. Macrelli is the new retail and catering manager with Sodexho.

Nate Billings

He has studied abroad, taught classes and carried on a tradition lasting four generations.

He is Daniel Macrelli, retail and catering manager with Sodexho.

“I’ll always be a chef the rest of my life,” Macrelli said.

Macrelli took over his position more than a month ago, and he said he is enjoying it.

“My crew is most important to me,” he said. “We all speak the same language.”

The Queens, N.Y. native said he has been in the cooking business his whole life.

“The passion for cooking has always been with me,” he said.

He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New Hyde Park, N.Y. when he decided to go to the DCT School of European Pastries in Lucerne, Switzerland.

There, he said he learned the secrets of his favorite items, deserts and pastries.

“I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life,” Macrelli said.

Afterward, he took a job as a chef in LéCirqué. He said the restaurant was voted the No. 1 in the world several times during and since his work there.

He moved to Springfield with his wife after graduating from the then Southwest Missouri State University.

During this time, Macrelli took more courses at Ozark Technical College, which later became an accredited culinary arts school. When this occurred, his instructors came to him and asked if he would help teach a few upper-division classes. He was certified by the state of Missouri to teach and started teaching classes in advanced pastries and ice sculpting.

“I really enjoyed that,” Macrelli said. “Teaching was very interesting. I enjoyed seeing students find a base in something.”

In Springfield, he met Munawar Ahmed, director of food services.

“He has so much potential,” Ahmed said. “He knows food and takes his job very seriously.”

Macrelli says his best comes from his team.

“I have a fantastic team,” he said. “Everyone is enthusiastic in feeding the students. They expect nothing less than exceptional service.”

Ahmed said Macrelli is working alongside the team to help the students get the service they expect as well as coming up with specials the students might not expect.

“He’s going to be around a long time,” Ahmed said. “The guy is a great guy to be around and to have somebody to count on.”

Macrelli said he is working to bring new specials to the menu based on student input and ideas. The ideas come from the Food Committee meetings, which he said are useful for students to voice their opinions. He said he writes the suggestions down and keeps them for future reference in a file. The best and worst meals are also noted to help him build a menu of favorites.

“I’m very pleased to be at Missouri Southern State University, and we’ll do whatever we can to please the students,” he said.

Among Macrelli’s skills, ice sculpting is one of his favorites. He said he would like to create an ice sculpture for a future campus-related event. The secret to a good ice sculpture, he said, is to use a chainsaw with ground-down teeth and then switch to hand tools.

Macrelli said he is always open to new ideas.

“Any student can walk in my door,” he said.