Happy Anniversary! Lexington Independents is proud to celebrate a 42-year culinary services partnership with The Linsly School, a coeducational, independent, boarding and day school in Wheeling, WV! Lexington’s dining program is well known across the globe for serving high-quality and culturally diverse food to 423 students (100 of those who board) and their families from 22 countries, & six different states.
Michelle Defazio also celebrates 13 years as the school’s food service director. As Lexington’s district peer mentor, Michelle understands the importance of relationship-driven partnerships. “I have an open line of communication with Linsly’s leadership, so I can best support their dining needs and special requests – from daily operations to catering.”
Catering is one area where Michelle and her team exceed her client’s expectations. From staff meetings to special events, Michelle and her team create the “wow” factor. A parent margarita mixer and Linsly Girls Tea were recent specialty-themed events to welcome everyone back to school!
Michelle has an extremely competent and engaging staff who have worked at Linsly for at least ten years, including four chefs all who attended culinary school and create everything from scratch. Students and their families enjoy a four-week rotating menu that features everything from fresh meats, whole chickens, locally-sourced vegetables, homemade soups and pasta sauces, and bread baked onsite. “We even prepare pepperoni rolls that are hand stuffed and rolled,” says Michelle.
For students who board from abroad, Michelle and her chefs do their best to create foods from home. Some of Linsly’s favorite meals include pork schnitzel, chicken shawarma with warm pita bread, ramen bowls, and chicken curry with white rice.
Happy employees equal happy consumers – our students! So, when asked how she recruits and retains employees in such a challenging labor-sourcing landscape, Michelle says, “I understand that family is important. I foster an environment that gives my staff time off – to see their child’s school play or sports game – you can’t get that time back. I make that happen, and in turn, they are dedicated to creating a dining experience that is reminiscent of home.”
From staff to students, Michelle and the Lexington team are fostering a welcoming space for students. “Our food service team members are familiar faces to our students. They may not have parents to see every day, so it’s important for our students to know we are there for them. They will come into my office and tell me or my staff members about their day, the football game they played, or even show me a picture of their dog,” says Michelle.
Michelle also works closely with students who have eating disorders or dietary restrictions. As a food service “counselor” Michelle was able to recently support a student with a specialized menu, as well as collaborate with the family, to help her gain and maintain a healthy weight.
A new intern program, as part of Linsly’s James F. Companion Leadership program in the Upper School, was also implemented to help students have an opportunity to get hands-on experience in a variety of different disciplines and careers through the school.
Michelle was proud that dining was the most active of these groups. “It’s really cool because these kids get to talk about dining, and even perform TikToks about their dining experiences.”
Congratulations to our Lexington Independents team for creating a successful partnership!
ABOUT LEXINGTON INDEPENDENTS
Lexington Independents is a chef-centric culinary management company that specializes in providing fresh, healthy, and innovative dining experiences for students in independent schools.
ABOUT THE LINSLY SCHOOL
The Linsly School, located in Wheeling, WV., was founded in 1814 and is the oldest school of its kind west of the Allegheny Mountains. Linsly began the transition from a military school in 1978 and became co-educational in 1988. Linsly is a college preparatory school serving both young men and women in grades five through twelve for both boarding and day students. The school is accredited by The Independent Schools Association.
Contact: Grace Hoyer, Public Relations
Lexington Independents, firstname.lastname@example.org, 610-349-0844