Chris Stroud, director of Dining Services at Idyllwild Arts, has lived in Idyllwild his whole life. So it was here, in Idyllwild, that he began his

Chris Stroud, now director of Dining Services, began working at Idyllwild Arts campus as a food service worker. Here he is holding his first-time time card dated Feb. 2, 2001. Photo by Susan Monroe

career in food service. “Everyone my age in Idyllwild had a busing or dishwashing position,” said Chris.

It was at Michelli’s restaurant, Chris believes it was 1988, that he began his career in food service. After that, he worked at The Bread Basket from about 1989 to 1992, and was inspired by his manager, Laura Birdsall. Chris quickly went to quick-order line cooking. Next, he worked a couple of years at The Chart House at the broiler and salad bar.

Chris believes it was a series of personal dining experiences that led the way to his leadership role of dining services at IA.

Chris still has an old postcard depicting Camp Curry Cafeteria, at Yosemite Valley, dated Dec. 25, 2001. Camp Curry Cafeteria put an imprint on Chris’ mind as to the ambience he found perfect for family and community dining. As well, Lindstrom Lodge was formative in Stroud’s imagination of dining environments, setting him in the direction of IA. Lindstrom Lodge is situated at AstroCamp, but Chris’ memories are from when it was the campus of Desert Sun School. Chris said these experiences are “written in my heart and have become part of my makeup, how I’m built,” preparing his vision for family and community dining.

Now, as director of Dining Services at IA, Chris most enjoys being an advisor to his staff, and the family weekend dinners. He likes to put together a dining experience that is “highly anticipated.”

Camp Curry Cafeteria in Yosemite Valley, as depicted in this 2001 postcard, inspired Chris Stroud toward the kind of family and community dining atmosphere of which he wanted to be part. This was right before he began working at Idyllwild Arts campus.
Photo by Susan Monroe

Chris said he has “an amazing staff to work with; everyone is in sync,” working harmoniously and where they “finish each other’s sentences,” because they are of the same mind about a great dining experience. “My job over the years,” said Chris, “has been to consistently influence and inspire our staff in this food service setting, and to always be moving in a certain direction. In this case, that movement is in the direction to support and sustain the mission of Idyllwild Arts.

“In an atmosphere where this foundation comes together into one community, for dining, we put out some great food and in this manner, we help launch those bright and beautiful minds out into the world where they can do something, change something, and make something better.”

Chris is the next speaker in the Spotlight on Leadership talk during the Associates of Idyllwild Arts Foundation meeting at 10 a.m. Monday, March 12, in the Nelson Dining Hall’s Fireside Room on campus. The event is free and open to the public.