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"Hello, here's your Dieter again" - that's how the probably most liked films from the campus of the University of Bayreuth begin. Then Dieter Wolf jumps into the picture from behind a Christmas tree, appears relaxing on a deck chair, or standing in the empty Frischraum to give updates on the latest regulations in the Cafeteria of the Studentenwerk Oberfranken (SWO)  - or promotes the new Campus Box. But he always thanks students for their patience: "It's awsome that you've been so understanding, you're great!"

"I really mean that, too," says Dieter Wolf in conversation with UBTaktuell. "We are dealing with young people here who have perhaps moved away from home for the first time. They don't have it easy either, living  a not at all normal student life - and yet they patiently go along with it all." Dieter Wolf , 63, is the "Head of Catering Operations", unofficially "the Dieter" with  great sympathy for young people. "They will never have such a good time as they did when they were studying - and we want to contribute to that."

Dieter Wolf (in front) at work

Dieter Wolf grew up in a village near Bad Überkingen, and you can still hear that he comes from Swabia. At 15, he completed a waiter's apprenticeship in a country inn, and went on to work in the restaurant business for decades. He has been involved in glamorous new openings at Mövenpick as well as management training at McDonalds. Finally, he entered the world of system gastronomy at BAUR-Kaufwelt in Burgkunstadt and then, in 2009, joined SWO at the University of Bayreuth.

Wolf is responsible for "keeping the whole operation running", he says with a smile and makes a sweeping motion behind his desk in the office, deep in the bowels of the Cafeteria.

In his office, there are a number of pictures, newspaper clippings, and certificates related to Dieter Wolf's dearest hobby, triathlon - including, of course, pictures of the Fun Run in Bayreuth. Another of Wolf's hobbies is antiques, costumes, medals, and porcelain. Just not food. "Food is culture for me, it's important to me that it's cultivated. But I don't like cooking, you know, when you’re dealing with food all day...". (c) Photos: priv.

There are a good 100 employees involved in SWO catering operations. Wolf is responsible for the menus - together with Norbert Ströbel, SWO Kitchen Manager, and Leon Leichsenring - and responsible for purchasing logistics. But he sees his task above all in motivating his colleagues: "Don't take yourself so seriously, I always tell myself, because although I may be the boss for some, I still depend on everyone here doing their job well and with pleasure." Wolf has little sympathy for people who indulge a bad mood: "If someone looks grumpy, which happens more often in Franconia than elsewhere, then of course I say something, because, after all, we are in a service industry!" Wolf himself seems to be in a good mood 24/7. He learned that in his career in gastronomy: "When I was cheerful and friendly, I simply got more tips. And my supervisors appreciated it, too." And finally, it's just something very fundamental: "The world is already complicated enough, I won’t change anything by being grim," says Dieter Wolf.

He has kept his good humour even when the SWO-cafeterias in Upper Franconia had to close down from one day to the next because of the pandemic regulations. Food to go? Eating on the spot? With a mask? Without? Fully staffed? With social distancing? That's when Dieter Wolf and Leon Leichsenring from SWO's internal audit department started making little films for social media. Wolf himself was surprised that, within days, they had up to 4000 views. The canteen manager has thus achieved a degree of celebrity status.

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Anja-Maria MeisterPress spokesperson of the University of Bayreuth

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