Chef Mitch Bio
UC Merced’s Executive Chef Mitch Vanagten’s lifelong passion for cooking began at a young age in his family’s Dutch Indonesian household. This passion has translated into culinary career which includes which continues to be inspired today by the bounty of food grown and raised in the San Joaquin Valley.
Chef Mitch began his culinary career in the Bay Area as an ACF apprentice at the prestigious Menlo Circus Club, where he worked his way up to sous chef. He then further refined his skills at Sharon Heights Country Club in Palo Alto, and eventually took on his first Executive Chef role at ALZA Pharmaceuticals. He has been the Executive Chef at UC Merced since its inception in 2005.
With an extensive knowledge of international cuisine, and ‘farm to table’ cooking, Chef Mitch is often called on for his expertise and volunteers for philanthropic causes both on campus and in the Merced community The main focus of his efforts are hunger relief, healthy eating education, and local sustainable agriculture. He has volunteered at FEAST Scholarship Fundraiser, Empty Bowl Fundraiser, The Wasted! Movie free screening, various fundraisers at UC Merced and in the Merced community to support hunger relief, local agriculture scholarships, and healthy eating initiatives. He also serves on various non-profit boards in the Central Valley, including Fresno Food Commons, Merced College’s Nutritional Advisory Board, and The Merced Chamber of Commerce FEAST Agriculture Scholarship committee.
Chef Mitch enjoys spending time with his family, reading, photography, brewing beer with friends, and exploring different cities on his bike.