Smitha Haneef, Executive Director of Campus Dining at Princeton University oversees the University’s residential dining, retail, athletic concessions, and catering operations. The Campus Dining food program at Princeton integrates culinary, wellness and sustainability concepts. Haneef is directly responsible in maintaining the University’s commitment to serving nutritious and sustainable food and collaborates with campus partners to develop new dining initiatives.
At Princeton Smitha serves on multiple committees and boards including, the Prospect House Association Board, Palmer Advisory Committee, and Healthier Princeton. She leads her team of 300 hospitality professionals in delivering excellence through food and beverage service and production. Smitha has recently implemented a transformation plan at Princeton with service excellence, team and people excellence, and efficiency and effectiveness as its guiding principles. Her vision is to establish food as a subject of critical inquiry connecting Campus Dining with academics and the administration. Campus Dining serves over 3 million meals each year through their award-winning residential dining halls, campus-wide athletic banquets, food truck, reunion activities, and a wide range of other campus events.
Smitha’s passion is providing a unique food and beverage hospitality experience that is fun, vibrant, and sustainable and focused on the University’s community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Prior to coming to Princeton University, Smitha helped launch the LifeWorks Restaurant Group, a premium on-site restaurant division of the food service company Aramark. She served as district manager for LifeWorks, leading large staff teams and overseeing restaurants, catering programs, cafes and other food service operations at multiple Fortune 500 companies. She was directly involved in expanding LifeWorks into Walt Disney Studios, Nike, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Cisco.
While in the position, she established partnerships with community organizations and global food programs to educate clients and restaurant guests about healthy and socially responsible food choices. She earned Aramark’s company-wide employee award for Most Valuable Partner in 2011. Haneef also helped develop the culinary arts curriculum at the International Culinary Center in Campbell, California, where she served as a guest faculty member. She also volunteered as a chef for the Santa Clara Unified School District in California, introducing hospitality careers to middle school students.
Before working for Aramark, Haneef was chef and owner of Aha Bite Corporation, an award-wining restaurant and catering company outside Birmingham, Alabama. She collaborated with top chefs in the area to develop a global menu of Indian and fusion cuisine that used local ingredients. She also has led several restaurants and large catering events in Chicago.
Haneef began her career in food and beverage departments at five-star hotels and restaurants in India. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Osmania University and a degree in hotel management and catering technology from India’s National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology.