Nancy Close’s heart and soul are in the food world, with roots that run deep. Her parents started and ran Caravan Serai, one of the first Afghan restaurants in the U.S. She saw from an early age how the warmth and graciousness of the Afghan culture, combined with delicious food, created a powerful experience for customers.
As a young adult, she began her journey in the corporate food world, including a stint with Red Robin International. In 1986, she took the reins of Caravan Serai from her parents and went on to win numerous awards for her food and service in the 17 years that followed.
In 1990, she started catering meals to her brother's daycare business. Other schools soon expressed interest in her food, leading to the formation of CKC Good Food®. By 2002, Close had closed the restaurant and was expanding CKC. Her passion for 'good food' meant the company devoted itself to creating food that was both delicious and nutritious for kids. CKC is now one of the leading school catering companies in the nation.
Close was chosen a 2014 Women in Business honoree by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. She also was recognized with an honorable mention in the Homegrown Hero Awards from the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council in 2013.
Throughout his career, Eldon Brustuen has been a catalyst for small and mid-sized businesses’ growth both domestically and internationally. Applying his international import/export expertise, business acumen, sales and marketing experience, and insider perspective on political dealings, he is able to lend valuable perspective on a wide range of issues to company executives. Brustuen has served as a sales and marketing consultant to CKC Good Food since 2012.
Launching new companies is familiar territory to Brustuen who has personally founded or co-founded six US and international companies as well as the Minnesota Trade Office, which he established while serving as the director of International Trade as a Honeywell Loaned Executive. He also helped create WORLDCOM, the largest group of independent public relations firms in the world, and the International Trade Promotion program for the State of Minnesota. In addition, he is responsible for establishing the Japanese corporate entities on a full-service turnkey basis for several U.S.-based companies, including Retek Japan KK (since acquired by Oracle) and DemandTec Japan KK (since acquired by IBM).
Previously, he was president of Jericho Ventures, an online learning company providing specialized curriculum leading to personal transformation. He was responsible for building the company from start-up through product development and market launch. He personally handled the private placement solicitation for the company that funded product development and marketing.
He currently serves or has served on the boards of numerous corporations, nonprofit organizations, and trade, state and international boards and commissions.
Drawing on 10+ years of experience at a variety of restaurants and foodservice companies, Nick uses his acute focus on customer service and masterful organizational skills to help him juggle the many demands and details that arise each day. Nick previously managed a store for national sandwich chain, and worked for Grand Central restaurant in St. Paul, the Mediterranean Café in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the Agnes' Portuguese Bakery in Kailua, Hawaii; as well as a country club, the Mayo clinic, a casino and an upscale catering company. Nick is a music aficionado who collects records and can beat most anyone at music trivia. He has learned to play several musical instruments by ear.
As former foodservice manager, Laurie trains schools on food safety guidelines and regulations, and service and reporting procedures; and helps prepare them for compliance reviews. She has been in the foodservice industry for more than 14 years, 13 of which were specifically in school foodservice positions managing student populations of up to 2,300 students. She is a certified School Nutrition Specialist, a ServSafe Certified Instructor and Exam Procter, a Registered Dietetic Technician, has achieved Level 3 Certification with the School Nutrition Association and has earned her Minnesota food manager certificate. She has an associate’s degree in applied science as a dietetic technician.
As the Registered Dietitian for NutriStudents K-12, Debbie’s responsibilities include analyzing all menu items and recipes for nutritional content. This includes making sure recipes follow the nutritional guidelines in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Debbie earned her bachelor's degree in nutrition and dietetics from Keene State College in Keene, N.H. She completed her dietetic internship at the University of Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis. Debbie has 20 years’ experience working as a clinical dietitian in hospitals and nursing homes plus 5 years in public health. In her spare time, Debbie enjoys quilting.
As a staff dietitian, Barb helps ensure our menus comply with federal regulations and that we specify quality ingredients to fit within our menus. Barb previously worked for many years as a foodservice director for large districts in Minnesota. When she’s not counting calories, Barb enjoys gardening, reading, talking about current events and watching golf. She says her children are her biggest influence, since she “learns something from them every day."
Andrew brings vast industry experience and a client-centered approach to his responsibilities with NutriStudents K-12. Always seeking to simplify tasks for clients, he is currently developing a complex new tool to automate menu selection and purchasing for our clients. He's also the creator of our proprietary Commodity Forecasting Tool and other analytical tools that support our value to clients. He has worked in foodservice since 2011 as a prep cook, kitchen manager and portion coordinator. Andrew is ServSafe certified, and has studied accounting, business management and music education.
James has parlayed his extensive front-line foodservice experience into a training and customer service, and menu/database development role with NutriStudents K-12. He began working for CKC Good Food, the sister company to NutriStudents K-12, in 2008, and has held roles including foodservice manager at two different client locations, chef, server, procurement representative, chef trainer and menu planner. He got his start in foodservice during high school, serving meals to residents of a senior living facility. James is ServSafe Certified and has a certificate of completion for the NUTRIKIDS Advanced 101 Program.
With experience in both school food service and mainline food distribution, Jeanne provides valuable school nutrition expertise to the NutriStudents K-12 team and our clients. She was previously the Director of Food Service for the School District of Superior for 16 years, overseeing an annual budget of nearly $3 million, and the service of 6,500 breakfasts, lunches and after-school dinners daily. Prior to Superior, she worked in sales/marketing for food distribution company Upper Lakes Foods for 13 years. A certified School Nutrition Specialist, she is a past President of the Wisconsin School Nutrition Association.
Rebecca applies her diverse culinary, foodservice and catering experience to her responsibilities, which include leading and refining the company’s client support function, onboarding new clients, helping new and existing clients maximize their use of the system. She was previously Director of Sales and Catering at Leeann Chin, where she oversaw the business plan, budget, sales and marketing, payroll and 30 staff members for the company’s corporate delivery department and overall sales functions. In her career, she has held several management, catering, pastry chef and cook positions for a variety of hospitality organizations, including Hyatt Hotels, a AAA 5-Diamond award-winning luxury resort in the Berkshires, a private golf club in Rhode Island, and the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Jaspers has a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Tourism and Events from Denver’s Metropolitan State University; and an associate’s degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from the Culinary Institute of America.