This Article is from UC Merced – In The News

Mitchell Vanagten, executive chef for UC Merced’s Lakeside Catering , has been named Chef of the Year by the Monterey Bay chapter of the American Culinary Federation.

The award from the chapter, of which Vanagten is vice president, recognizes members for exceptional community service and promotion of the culinary craft, and demonstration of a high standard of expertise and leadership in the workplace.

Vanagten — known affectionately on and around campus as Chef Mitch — is a fixture at UC Merced since joining the university as an executive chef in 2005. In addition to managing kitchen staff for UC Merced dining facilities and for Lakeside, the university’s catering service, Vanagten directs menu planning and teaches staff new culinary skills.

But Vanagten’s impact on the Merced region extends well beyond the university. Combining his knowledge of international cuisine with a passion for farm-to-table cooking, he volunteers with numerous agencies and causes to support hunger relief, local agriculture scholarships and healthy eating initiatives. He serves on several nonprofit 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.

“To be nominated and voted for by those I deeply respect in the culinary world is a testament to the passion and dedication that fuels our shared love for food,” Vanagten said. “The culinary communities in Monterey Bay and Merced are filled with exceptionally talented individuals, and to stand out among them is a humbling experience.

“What makes this recognition even more mind-blowing is that it extends beyond the realm of cooking. To be acknowledged for my contributions in areas beyond the kitchen, but still intricately tied to the world of food, is truly heartwarming.”

Vanagten will be honored at the Monterey Bay ACF chapter’s Chef of the Year Celebration , scheduled for June 9.