Ever been to a Raider or A’s game at the Oakland Coliseum?
How about the River Cats at West Sacramento’s Raley Field?
Or any games at Fresno State University or minor league baseball games at Fresno’s Chukchansi Park, home of the Fresno Grizzlies?
Concerts at the Concord Pavilion?
San Jose’s Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes?
If so, chances are the food and beverages you purchased were planned and managed by Manteca’s Tim Dickert.
Dickert, a native of Racine, Wisconsin, and loyal Green Bay Packers fan, was one of six children in his family before his aunts moved in to make it a household of eight children.
His first job was a newspaper carrier (aka, paperboy) for the Racine Journal Times, but it was his mother who found him a bus boy job at a new restaurant called Gatsby’s Speak Easy that changed the course of Dickert’s life.
“I attended the first training and the kitchen manager came out and asked me to meet everyone,” said Dickert, 52. “He asked if I was related to Pete Dickert (who was working in the kitchen), I stated, ‘yes he is my cousin.’ The next thing I know I’m peeling 150 pounds of shrimp in my cowboy boots on a quarry tile floor for eight hours.
“Evidently I liked it as I continued for the next six years at Gatsby’s, learning the trade moving to line cook, then lead cook, and then attending Culinary School while there.”
Dickert’s career then took off.
After graduating from culinary school, Dickert was hired to be a sous chef at the Council House (International Conference Center for Johnson Wax).
“I was hired and worked under two very different but equally talented chefs,” said Dickert.
One chef helped Dickert’s palate and food knowledge evolve, while the other chef taught him kitchen management and financials.
At the Council House, Dickert cooked for the kings of Africa, global leaders, President George H.W. Bush, and numerous dignitaries.
Also at the Council House, Dickert learned about French wine, the varietals, the regions and territories.
“That really opened my palate,” said Dickert.
Dickert eventually moved to California to become sous chef at Santa Cruz’ The Chaminade where the Sunset Buffet and the fine dining restaurant, The Library, were both rated number one for four years. There he cooked for former NFL head coach Mike Holmgren, actress Michelle Pfeiffer, and actor Clint Eastwood.
It was also there he met his eventual wife, Susie, who worked the front desk at The Chaminade.
Soon, both would move to Wisconsin, Susie’s first taste of the state.
“I tempted her in the fall (season) with the wonderful cool crisp air and colorful foliage as the colors were in full bloom,” Dickert shared.
Back in Wisconsin, Dickert was named executive chef at the Oshkosh Power Boat Club, but quickly he became the general manager, as well.
The Club closed in 1998 as the members decided the land was worth more than the club, Dickert explained. However, one member asked Dickert if he was interested in running the member’s restaurant and Dickert quickly found himself as executive chef/general manager at the Gibson Grill in Appleton, Wisconsin.
One of the highlights while at the Gibson Grill was feeding his beloved Green Bay Packers.
In one year under Dickert’s leadership, the sales volume increased by 350 percent but, like the Power Boat Club, the owner decided to sell the business.
Dickert and his wife decided to return to California where he joined Aramark with an assignment as the executive chef at Raley Field. At the time the facility was under construction and Dickert created menus for the suites and concessions. He wrote all recipes, methods, and diagrams.
In his 10 years with Aramak, Dickert also managed large amphitheater venues in Concord and Marysville; he was Director of Concessions at the Oakland Coliseum (feeding the rabid Raider fans and fickle A’s fans); and, he was general manager for Fresno State athletic events.
“During my term at the Concord Pavilion I was asked to go to the Executive Directors office for a meeting about an hour before the (B.B. King) concert,” Dickert recalled. “In the office was B.B. King who stated, ‘I understand you like my music’ and I said, ‘well, yes I do.’
“B.B. and I just sat there and conversed like old friends for 20 minutes.”
Later, while on stage performing that evening, King mentioned he met a very nice young man who loved his music and announced, “This one is for Tim,” before playing “The Thrill is Gone.”
Dickert’s days are often long, long, and longer, especially while working at the Oakland Coliseum.
“I could easily work 8-10 days in a row, 16-plus hours a day,” said Dickert, who also had a Manteca-Oakland roundtrip commute ranging five hours.
“I remember one stretch at the Sacramento River Cats,” Dickert added. “Our first season we opened up late due to construction, so everything was packed into August. From July to September we had three days without events and those were days to restock and prep for upcoming events.”
Those long days prepared him for his current role with Spectra Food Services and Hospitality: general manager at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes.
Like Raley Field, Dickert started the position when Avaya was still just dirt.
“Opening Avaya Stadium and being involved from conception was a highlight and continues to be so,” Dickert shared. “I love that stadium!”
The Dickerts have three sons: Timothy James Dickert, 31; Andrew Joseph Dickert, 20; and, John Thomas Dickert, 10. It is a household of loyal Green Bay Packers fans.
Tim and Susie Dickert also wrote a family cookbook together, “From our Kitchen to Yours.”
From Gatsby’s Speak Easy to huge sports and music venues across the Central Valley and Bay Area, Tim Dickert’s journey simply started when his mom found him that bus boy job.