Homecoming, Home Cooking: Graduate Returns to Head Up Dining Services
June 25, 2021
After attending high school in Western Massachusetts and spending four years at Thomas Aquinas College as a student, Tim Cosgrove (’95) has in many ways returned to his roots by coming to work on his alma mater’s budding New England campus. This talented culinary professional, having recently completed his first year as executive director of food services, has already impressed the student body with his professional standards and love for the community. Although he has served in several prestigious venues throughout the country, he feels that the rugged New England countryside may very well be his home for decades to come.
Tim spent his early childhood years in France and England before moving to Long Island, New York. When he was 13 years old, he enrolled at Trivium School, a rigorous classical academy only an hour’s drive from what is now the College’s New England campus. Upon graduating, he opted to continue his education at Thomas Aquinas College, a popular choice for alumni. He was pleasantly surprised to see how well his four years in Massachusetts had prepared him for the rigorous program in California. “I had already had two years of Wheelock and four years of Latin, and I had already done Euclid, and so the two most initially challenging classes of Freshman Year I had under my belt,” he recalls.
He also remembers his great esteem for Dr. Tom Kaiser, who has been a member of the College’s faculty for nearly 40 years and now serves as dean of the New England campus. “Dr. Kaiser was my thesis advisor,” says Mr. Cosgrove. “I always admired him as a person, the way he conducts himself.” Little did he know that, several thousand miles distant, the two would one day work together at Thomas Aquinas College, this time on the East Coast.
After graduating from the College in 1995, Mr. Cosgrove worked in food service and briefly pursued acting both in New York and Los Angeles. He was later employed by several culinary venues, including Wolfgang Puck Catering and most recently as head manager of food service for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
When the coronavirus hit, Mr. Cosgrove unexpectedly found himself inundated with opportunities for employment. “In the middle of Covid, I had three job interviews in one week,” he marvels, “which is the exact opposite of everyone else that I know.” One of these interviews was with Thomas Aquinas College, which was looking for someone with his expertise to staff the school’s New England dining hall. “One of the things that Dr. Kaiser talked to me about is the fact that they had to design a new food service operation, and so that was interesting to me,” he says.
Many possibilities presented themselves alongside the College’s offer, and the Cosgroves turned to prayer, begging God to guide them in their decision. “We did a Rosary novena as a family, and the intention was that whatever the right choice for us was, that it would be made clear,” Mr. Cosgrove remarks. He was particularly affected one Sunday at Mass as he listened to the story of Solomon ranking wisdom above all other earthly treasures. He decided to follow the king’s example. “I don’t want something for me,” he thought. “I want wisdom to be able to make the right choice. Those scriptures were sort of the inspiration for the approach to how we looked at it.” Soon, the answer was made clear: relocate to Northfield, Massachusetts.
The College community welcomed the Cosgroves to campus last September. Mr. Cosgrove, his wife, Rosy, and their daughter, Sofia, live in Weston House at the heart of campus, and the new executive director of food services’ daily commute is a two-minute walk to the student commons — a luxury he would scarcely have once thought possible.
Although he made some professional sacrifices to return to the College, rather than working for larger and more prestigious venues, he is convinced that he made the best choice. In food service, Mr. Cosgrove says, there is always a desire to push forward and increase output. “My choice was to put less priority on financial earnings and less priority on the career-path growth to become a vice-president of a company,” he explains. “It’s about the community, it’s about the kind of people you work with.”