Jeff Palmer is the director of Dining Services at the University of California San Diego. He oversees 19 residential dining and market facilities on a campus with nearly 70,000 students, faculty and staff, totaling an average of 6 million transactions annually. Included in Jeff’s portfolio is UC San Diego Catering, the preferred campus caterer that provides services ranging from small private luncheons and conference buffet meals to elegant fundraising dinners for thousands.
Jeff has nearly 30 years of experience in the food and beverage industry and brings a diverse and extensive background. His career has spanned from hotel dining management and operations at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa in New Mexico; a national restaurant group, Romano’s Macaroni Grill; private catering; airport restaurants and concessions in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas; and now, UC San Diego. Jeff was drawn to the university because of how it brought all of his experiences together. UC San Diego’s residential dining operates on an a la carte model, similar to Jeff’s previous operational experiences. The campus also boasts two full-service restaurants for students, something that is not traditionally seen in a university.
At the core of Jeff’s guiding principle is his mission to provide restaurant-quality food that students will remember even after they graduate UC San Diego. He understands that food is a very personal experience, and he takes it very seriously. “My hope is that when students graduate UC San Diego, they continue to talk about their culinary experience,” he said. “I want it to be the thing they remember.” This is why Jeff is extremely proud of his team for establish the largest halal-certified residential dining restaurant in the country.