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Meet the UNC Catering Team

UNC Catering is based out of the University Center at the University of Northern Colorado. The University Center is located between 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue at 20th Street. This building houses many businesses and offices, so stop by and see what we can do for you!

Chef Aran Essig, CEC, CCA

Certified Executive Chef & Certified Culinary Administrator

Phone: 970-351-1938  //  Email: aran.essig@unco.edu

"What do you eat at home?" I'm asked that question quite often. Dining Services also asks our guests the same question. With such a diverse campus population, it is only natural that our menus and food offerings are just as diverse as those that we serve.

I started in restaurants at the age of 14 and have not looked back. I love to work with food, create new dishes, explore new foods and see guests happy. I work with a team of great chefs, cooks, and culinary professionals here at UNC to create menus, recipes, conduct staff trainings and work diligently to ensure customer satisfaction and the safety of the products and services we offer our guests.

I am a graduate of the International School of Culinary Arts in Denver Colorado. Originally from Michigan, I have worked in various restaurants and Country Clubs in Michigan and Colorado. I am an active member and past president of the Colorado Chefs Association, active member of the American Culinary Federation, Certified Culinary Administrator and Certified Executive Chef.

To answer that question of what I eat at home, it is the same as what I eat here at UNC…good food made with care for those it is served to.

Robert Schmidt

Catering Manager

Phone: 970-351-1390  //  Email: robert.schmidt@unco.edu

I am thrilled to be joining the catering team at the University of Northern Colorado, and proud to be a Bear. I was raised in Manhattan, Kansas and developed a love of food with lots of homemade meals.

I attended Hutchinson Community College on a football scholarship and received an Associate’s degree in Business. I then completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration at Kansas State University and moved to Colorado. I have been married to my amazing wife, a middle school teacher, for 18 years. We have four incredible and beautiful daughters. In my free time I enjoy skiing, golfing, and other outdoor activities with my family in colorful Colorado.

I have been in the food service industry for most of my life, starting at an early age as a dishwasher. The privilege of working with young adults always keeps me motivated to provide the best experience possible for guests who are joining us for their special occasions and events.

Danielle Rupp

Catering Assistant Manager

Phone: 970-351-1304  //  Email: danielle.rupp@unco.edu

Being a Colorado native, I love all the opportunities I have in this beautiful state. With my job here in the catering department, I get to work a wide variety of events, like weddings, the wild animal sanctuary, miscellaneous events around campus, and other venues throughout the state. It gives me more appreciation for my home. I feel Colorado is such a special place to live.

I have worked for UNC Catering for two years. I started as a university aide and worked up to my current position, which is the assistant catering manager. Having a job at a university is like no other job I’ve had. I love working with the students, and I love the environment and pace of my job, as well as the wonderful staff I work with. I stay busy and I get to meet new people daily.

In my free time I spend as much time with my three year old daughter, Julia, 6 month old son, Ezra, and my husband, Andy, as I can squeeze in. I enjoy going to Rockies games, playing volleyball and basketball, having time with family and friends, bike rides, spoiling my kids, and cooking. Go Bears!

Ron Bennett

Catering Production Manager and Chef

Phone: 970-351-2626  //  Email: ronald.bennett@unco.edu

Are you looking for that special touch at your meeting, certain special occasion, or wedding? At the University of Northern Colorado we can accommodate your entire request. We offer wide selection of high quality cuisine and full service.

I have been in the culinary entertainment field for 30+ years. I have worked in various restaurants in the Denver area, and I’ve been with UNC Catering for 15 years. I’m a Colorado native, and I love the diverse cuisine we have here... especially wild game.

I have the honor to work with some really talented chefs, cooks and culinary professionals here at UNC to provide excellent quality and safe product to our customers.