Monty (Chef) Staggs
“We want kids to be excited about eating at school.” This is the guiding principle of SFE, LLC, the fourth largest culinary-based food service management company dedicated to K-12 nutrition in the nation.
Since its founding in 2004, SFE has partnered with nearly 2,000 schools across 170 districts to provide fresh-from-scratch meals to students across 20 states. CEO, Monty (Chef) Staggs shares, “We’re going head-to-head with multibillion-dollar companies that have the resources to survive any headwinds so we must do things differently. For us, that means not only providing nutritious, great tasting meals, but a commitment to constant innovation.” And, while Monty and his team of over 7,800 consistently strive to stay at the forefront of inventiveness in their services, they also emphasize competent and compassionate leadership.
In recognition of their stellar performance, SFE was a finalist for the 2022 Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Ethics; was named one of the Fastest Growing Contract Management Companies for the last eight years running; earned Innovator of the Month distinction; and contributed to the discussion around the Evolving Cafeteria. For these accolades, Monty credits SFE’s unique business model. “For us, innovation is the most essential component of driving participation,” he shares. “It’s not just about getting food on the plate—it’s about enticing students from all economic and social backgrounds to want a meal at school. Serving over 150 million meals annually to children across the nation, we’ve cultivated a food-first culture, where creating good meals is just what we do.” And few leaders are more qualified to make that determination than Monty.
Monty’s incredible career journey took him from studying law, to chef, to CEO. In fact, it was while he was in law school that he had a major epiphany. “At the time, I was cooking for friends, operating my own catering company, and the profits paid my tuition. I decided to switch gears and enrolled in culinary school at Johnson and Wales in Miami,” he recalls. “I graduated at the top of my class and then worked in fine dining before getting into the business side of the industry with research, development, and food service sales. Now, it’s all come back around full circle,” Monty shares. “I know it was the right choice. Seeing our people succeed and putting smiles on kids’ faces—there’s nothing more fulfilling.”
Monty (Chef) Staggs: CEO — SFE, LLC