Penn College chef-instructor receives Lifetime Service Award

Published 02.27.2024

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An organization promoting sustainable agriculture recently presented a Lifetime Service Award to Chef Michael J. Ditchfield, a 2023 Pennsylvania College of Technology retiree and current part-time instructor.

Each year, Pasa Sustainable Agriculture presents Pasabilities Awards to honor farm, community and business leaders who serve as examples for advancing sustainable agriculture through innovation and collaboration. Ditchfield was honored Feb. 10 during Pasa’s annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference, held in Lancaster.

Chef Michael J. Ditchfield

“Ditchfield has dedicated his career to educating the next generation of chefs,” Pasa Executive Director Hannah Smith-Brubaker wrote. “He upholds that the farmers he works closely with are the primary sources connecting him to high quality food and relays the same philosophy to his students, teaching them how to source ingredients sustainably and how to prepare cuisines that honor those ingredients.”

“We are proud of his accomplishments and this well-deserved recognition in an area that Chef Mike is so dedicated to and passionate about,” said Brian J. Walton, assistant dean of business and hospitality at Penn College.

For many years, Ditchfield’s catering classes visited the Williamsport Growers Market, where they transformed the fresh, local ingredients available at the market into free sample-sized dishes for the market’s patrons. In 2019, he established a Food Sustainability class to help students better understand sustainability in producing, processing and distributing food and beverages, as well as food security and food justice. His classes frequently visited organic farms, trout nurseries and wineries, and produced harvest dinners.

He continues to lead Penn College students in serving as assistants to demonstrators on the PA Preferred Culinary Connection stage at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, where he, too, takes the stage to provide demonstrations using Pennsylvania ingredients.

Ditchfield was honored during Pasa’s annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference, held in Lancaster.

“When Chef Ditchfield speaks about food service, farming and the environment, he is nothing short of compelling,” said Dan Dalton, Pasa’s associate director for farmer training and development. “He’s a true community advocate, representing so well what Pasa has been and aims to be within the food system.”

Ditchfield began his employment at Penn College in 1996 and received its Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011.

Previously, he worked as executive chef at the Hillside Restaurant, Montoursville, and the Peter Herdic House, Williamsport. He also was employed as a sous chef at the Gaslight Inn, Montville, N.J., and the Sheraton Inn, Williamsport. In addition, his experience includes three Ritz Carlton Hotel properties, most notably the Ritz Carlton Buck Head in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.

He holds a Master of Science in education from Wilkes University, a Bachelor of Science in culinary arts technology from Penn College, and an associate degree in hotel and restaurant management from Paul Smith’s College. He holds certifications in garde manger, seafood cookery, sauce cookery and baking from the Culinary Institute of America.

Pasa is a nonprofit organization that supports sustainable farms and equitable food systems through farmer-driven education, research and community. It is based in Pennsylvania and increasingly engages with farmers and partners across the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast.

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