Q&A with Collis favorite Ben Robbins
Ben Robbins is a beloved Dartmouth Dining Services employee at Collis Cafe. Best known for working at the pasta station, Robbins has also been working at the stir-fry station this term. The 26-year-old grew up in Canaan, New Hampshire, but now resides in Hartford, Vermont. After working at Collis Cafe for six years, this will be his last term working for DDS.
How did you start working with DDS?
BR: My mom was working here, and I thought it would be cool to work at Collis with her. I got a full-time job after a year or two here and have been full-time ever since. I started in 2012. I’ve been here for a long time, but not as long as other people have.
What is your favorite part about working in Collis?
BR: I love cooking, but, on top of that, I love all the interaction with students and building relationships with them. That has probably been the biggest motivator to stay.
You are well known for being friends with many students on campus. Was that always your goal when you started working at Collis?
BR: I grew up with my mom telling me I had Asperger’s syndrome. I also went to a school with only 40 people from preschool to 12th grade. I feel like my social skills have developed a lot more through working at Collis. You guys are forced to come see us everyday, which means I can say, “Hi! How are you?” and try a different greeting the next day if I don’t get a response the first time. I’ve realized if I say certain greetings, people will come back tomorrow and say hi to me. It has gotten a lot easier.
Where are you going when you leave your DDS job?
BR: I am going to Cravin’s Country Market and Deli at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. I’m going to be a manager there. The owner is my pastor’s son-in-law, and he was looking for a third manager. He said I was the person he wanted with the integrity level he was looking for — all he needed to do was train me on how to use money. This new job is all about change and going outside my comfort zone.
What would your Collis stir-fry and pasta orders be?
BR: It is a lot easier to order as a worker. My pasta is easier, since that is just chicken broccoli alfredo. You just toss it all together and leave with the food because it is free for employees. As a student, it is harder to order the same meal because you have to order chicken separately, weigh broccoli separately and then order the pasta. For stir-fry, I recommend the Steven’s special, which is the teriyaki and orange sauces with the sweet and smoky spice combination. It is definitely the best combination we have.
Do you have any Collis hacks?
BR: There are two hacks that are older and more well known hacks. One is crispy stir fry or pasta, but it’s killing the pans. The other one was if you brought spinach in a large cup to the smoothie line, you would get your smoothie in that large cup. But now it just goes in the small cup.
What do you do for fun?
BR: I like to play video games. My best friend also does. She isn’t good at cooking, so I cook and then we play. I also spend a lot of time at church, since I’m in charge of sound. I’m trying to learn all the instruments so I can play them.
What do you hope students remember about you and take away from your time here?
BR: Just that it’s all about that family experience and the relationships. I’m hoping that there will still be that at Collis after I leave. Plus, I’ve already been told by a bunch of people that I have to come back and visit all the time.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.