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Nittany Lion Inn Hires Executive Chef with Local Tastes

Thursday May 17, 2012

Andrew Monk has worked in kitchens around the world. But as The Nittany Lion Inn’s new executive chef, his focus is all local.

Monk worked in The Dining Room at The Nittany Lion Inn as sous chef for six years. He was hired as executive chef in May and cherishes the opportunities, challenges, and possibilities the new position awards him.

Coming off a busy graduation weekend, in which The Dining Room served more than 3,500 guests, Monk said he looks forward to taking a leadership role and infusing local and sustainable options into the menus of both Nittany Lion Inn restaurants—The Dining Room and Whiskers.

“I’d like to see Penn State adopt what our local market can provide,” Monk said. “It’s the only way for local foods to get out of the boutique stage.”

Transitioning to a more locally focused menu offers many benefits for the Four Diamond hotel’s restaurant. Chef Monk said it supports a healthy culture that addresses some of the health-related issues facing Americans today. It also exposes the culture to Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management students who are working or interning with the Inn throughout the semester.

“We can impact them and they can bring it on in their careers,” he said. “They are always looking to learn and keep things fresh. We can lead by example and it spirals out.”

Monk was classically trained at The French Culinary Institute in New York. His real-life experience came in kitchens in Hawaii, Cannes, Istanbul, San Francisco, and Lima. It was during this time in his career he learned about the importance of fresh foods.

Monk said he looks forward to laying down a blueprint for other restaurants and universities. Showcasing and working with local farmers and manufacturers fits nicely in Penn State’s mission as a land-grant university.

Providing these sustainable options not only educates the Inn staff, but also the guests of the Inn. Together that knowledge gets the sustainable ball rolling and creates the success that will encourage other restaurants and universities to follow suit.

“It doesn’t happen over night,” Monk said. “We’ll adapt while satisfying our guests. I believe people want to do what’s best for their bodies and the environment.”