SUNY Potsdam appoints Chef John VanKennen

The chef will focus on using local ingredients whenever possible.

SUNY Potsdam Auxiliary College and Educational Services (PACES) has appointed John VanKennen as chef of Lehman Dining Center, the all-you-care-to-eat facility on the upstate New York campus.

VanKennen is a native of North Country and began his career in foodservice at a local Potsdam bakery, according to a SUNY Potsdam release. For seven years after graduating high school, VanKennen worked in various restaurants in Massachusetts, returning to Potsdam “with a passion to serve great food with the freshest ingredients,” the press release states.

Most recently, VanKennen served as chef and production manager for dining services at Clarkson University, in Potsdam, and prior as head chef at Violi’s Restaurant in Massena. The press release reports that VanKennen’s focus for the Lehman Dining Center will be “to make the best food possible using fresh ingredients, in keeping with PACES’ mission to buy local whenever possible.”

“Fresh ingredients are what really turn a good dish into a great dish,” VanKennen says. “We cut the peppers, onions and vegetables here every day now, so we are working toward another level of quality and a more distinct flavor.”

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