BFP: How and when did you find yourself at Bennington?
ND: I believe it was 2008, I was currently working at a Chili’s and I noticed that they were looking for somebody up here to manage their student center, and before Chili’s I was working at Pangea, which was more hands on, more food based, I enjoyed it but just because of my time of life situation I had to find a daytime job. I mean all I know is food. Kitchen. I didn’t want to work for Chili’s, it was kind of like an in between thing, and when I saw the managerial job up here I thought I’d check it out, and I checked it out, and it was more than I imagined and they actually hired me, so.
BFP: Are you from here?
ND: I’m originally from Cambridge, New York. So, very close. I have relatives that live in Bennington.
BFP: Cool. So you’d worked with Bill Scully before you came here?
ND: Yeah. I’ve worked with Bill Scully on and off since I was…fourteen.
BFP: Wow. Did you start working at Pangaea when you were fourteen?
ND: Nope, when I was fourteen I started working at the Cambridge Hotel, I got the job through a family friend Joe Truex, and I met Bill, Bill was a sous-chef at the time, and I met him there, worked for him and Joe for a while, and then, it was right when he opened Pangaea, 2006—he had left the hotel, I had stayed at the hotel—and I just completely forgot about him until one day I stopped at Powers and they were looking to hire somebody.
BFP: What has been different about working here than your other experiences? I mean—presumably a lot of stuff.
ND: Yeah, the first thing I noticed about being here, when I first walked into [the Student Center] was the architecture, it was just unlike any kitchen I’d ever seen, it was a very new kitchen, first of all, and the second thing, the thing I notice that’s different from anything else, is the clientele. It’s students, you don’t have the different demographics that you do at a restaurant. You have students, that’s who you’re feeding, that’s who’s down here. And that’s a really cool thing, especially for someone my age, who was coming—well, I would have been coming out of college, I could relate to a lot of people. It’s made the job really enjoyable.
BFP: Have you felt like you were part of the community here? I know that the general perception is that you are.
ND: I definitely get along with the students, I’m able to relate to the students, it’s such a cool part of the job here. I think that’s essential for the job here, is that you’re able to listen to the students and talk to the students, otherwise you aren’t going to know what they need in their student center.
BFP: What was the state of the Student Center when you first arrived here?
ND: When I first arrived here, it was pretty much a free for all. There were students working when they weren’t working, not working when they should have been working, there was no consistency in the way they served the food, there was no real structure, it was kind of a bit overwhelming when I got here. But it was fun, it was new for me and I noticed one thing right out of the gate was that there was the people that enjoyed coming to the Student Center, it was like a niche, and they had their Student Center where it used to be, in Down Commons. When it moved here, people didn’t like it as much, people were like, why isn’t it in the old space, we liked it where it was, so a lot of people just didn’t come, which was considerable, so I picked up on that within the first month. I also noticed that there was a lot of free food going out the door, you know, if your friend was working you could easily get some chicken tenders to go and not have to pay for it, so when I stopped that people also didn’t like me that much.
BFP: What are you doing next?
Right now I am going to be the chef de cuisine at Pangaea. This is twofold, in that last June or July Bill came to me with the proposition of being his partner at Pangaea catering and Pangaea lounge, and after a lot of meetings and a lot of conversations, I decided to accept his offer. So, currently I’m a partner at Pangaea, and I’m also going to start in June to be the chef de cuisine, which should carry me for a couple years.
BFP: That’s exciting! What is a chef de cuisine?
ND: Basically I’ll be the kitchen manager, I will be cooking for fine dining, and I will also manage the staff, the menus, the food, and anything that breaks I fix it.