Smitha Haneef, an award-winning food service and hospitality leader with nearly 20 years of experience in restaurants and hotels around the world, has been named Princeton University's executive director of Campus Dining. She will begin on Monday, June 23.
Reporting to Vice President for University Services Chad Klaus, Haneef will lead dining staff and facilities across campus. She will oversee the University's residential and retail dining operations, including the six residential college dining halls and the Frist Campus Center food venues.
Haneef also will maintain the University's commitment to serving nutritious and sustainable food and collaborate with campus groups to develop new dining initiatives.
"Smitha brings an exciting and fresh perspective on providing inspired offerings to our diverse campus population, as well as building on the partnerships with residential colleges and campus retail and catering clients," Klaus said. "She also has impressive experience with professional development and mentorship programs for staff that I believe will serve our team well at Princeton."
Haneef said she looks forward to bringing her love of food and learning to Princeton.
"My passion is providing a dining environment that is fun, vibrant, sustainable and focused on the community," she said. "I am honored to enhance the experiences of Princeton students, faculty and staff through Campus Dining."
Haneef helped launch the LifeWorks Restaurant Group, a premium on-site restaurant division of the food service company Aramark. She most recently served as district manager for LifeWorks, leading large staff teams and overseeing restaurants, catering programs, cafes and other food service operations at multiple Fortune 500 companies. She was directly involved in expanding LifeWorks into Google, Nike and Walt Disney Studios.
While in the position, she established partnerships with community organizations and global food programs to educate clients and restaurant guests about healthy and socially responsible food choices. She earned Aramark's company-wide employee award for Most Valuable Partner in 2011.
Haneef helped develop the culinary arts curriculum at the International Culinary Center in Campbell, California, where she served as a guest faculty member. She also volunteered as a chef for the Santa Clara Unified School District in California, introducing hospitality careers to middle school students.
"Smitha brings a wealth of experience in optimizing high culinary and wellness standards, providing excellent service and encouraging the professional development of dining staff, all in the context of a sustainably focused and financially viable program," Klaus said.
Before working for Aramark, Haneef was chef and owner of Aha Bite Corporation, an award-wining restaurant and catering company outside Birmingham, Alabama. She collaborated with top chefs in the area to develop a global menu of Indian and fusion cuisine that used local ingredients. She also has led several restaurants and large catering events in Chicago.
Haneef began her career in food and beverage departments at five-star hotels and restaurants in India. She earned a bachelor's degree at Osmania University and a degree in hotel management and catering technology from India's National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology.
"I am honored to support the Princeton University community through Campus Dining, and I look forward to collaborating with colleagues to enrich campus life," Haneef said.