Educating Future Chefs

Southern New Hampshire University has well-respected culinary and
hospitality management degrees. You can even taste student progress
at the school’s hospitality center on campus.

As dean of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Management at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) in Manchester, Bill Petersen takes the pulse of the industry’s needs to ensure that students are equipped with the skills necessary to succeed. He answered our questions about training the next generation of chefs and his opinion of our local cuisine.

Where does SNHU fit into the range of schools that a potential culinary or hospitality student may choose from? Our culinary program is a two-year associate degree with an equal balance of academic rigor and experiential learning. That places it between Johnson and Wales and UMass, for example. Our management program offers a plus two, four year and a master’s degree in hospitality. The year consists of two 12-week sessions with students working on externships all over the country during the winter break and summer.

How has the school grown? We started the hospitality program in 1976 and the culinary program in 1983. From a handful of students we now have in the mid-300s enrolled. In 1997 we added the hospitality center, a 30,000-square-foot building with a public restaurant, a ballroom and a meeting facility. We also host a small retail coffee shop that features Starbucks coffee and student-made pastries.

Where do your students come from? Students come in regionally for our culinary program, but for hospitality management, we get people from all over the world.

Wouldn’t everyone just want to study hospitality in Switzerland? True, the Swiss are experts in small luxury properties, but they don’t manage economies of scale. Managing a corporate facility needs to be studied in the States.

Why is a good hospitality management education important? Hotel management is a small margin industry. It deals with human capital — the care and safety of guests — and there are huge physical capital requirements. The smallest bistro can cost a half million dollars to open, and managing chains involves multi-millions

Who is the typical student? They are above average in academics, multi-taskers and solid B students. The industry attracts people who enjoy a varied work style or pace. There are not a lot of desk jobs in this industry. They enjoy hard work and are rewarded by the product and the opportunity to dine, stay and play. We also have a fair amount of mid-career students in their 40s and 50s.

What kind of pay can graduates expect? More than you would expect. An entry-level manager at Wendy’s can make $100,000 with bonuses. The industry values enthusiasm, experience and education, so there is room for personal growth for everyone willing to work hard.

Who are your instructors in the culinary program? Instructors are all trained chefs with a blend of industry and academic experience. All hold master’s degrees and culinary degrees at the associate degree level. Where they have lived, worked and cooked is remarkable.

Where have your students gone on to work? Students have gone to work for the French Laundry in Napa, restaurants in the Time-Warner complex in NYC and beyond. Grad Cory Fletcher is doing a great job at 55 Degrees in Concord.

How about the local dining scene, have any favorite restaurants? Well, Chuck Rolecek is an advisory board member, and his new restaurant, the Hanover Street Chophouse, is phenomenal. It is a New York-quality jewel for the city and the state. He is serving prime beef and only 2 percent of restaurants serve that quality. His lunch menu is great also, and a good value. Surf, in Nashua, is my favorite seafood restaurant. I think it is better executed than Legal Sea Foods. Baldwin’s in Manchester continues to do good work. Occasionally I will eat at the Tavern at the Bedford Village Inn. For Italian, Pasquale’s in Candia is very nice, passionate and accommodating. He serves great wines that are authentic and appropriate. I just hate to see Australian wines in an Italian restaurant.

Asian food? There is a wide range in the area. New and good is the Vietnamese restaurant, the Golden Bowl, by the motor inn near the Queen City bridge (in Manchester). It’s run by Chen Loi, the former pastry chef at the Bedford Village Inn. Other good choices include the Thai Palace on Second Street (in Manchester), You You’s in Nashua for sushi, Chen Yang Li for Peking duck, Sara in Goffstown for Asian (Korean/Japanese). I always advise students and tour groups to eat the local specialty and order what you wouldn’t make at home — like Peking duck. I never order salmon in a restaurant; it is so simple to make at home.

Where would you go for the best cheap eats? Well, of course, the student-run Hospitality Center Restaurant is the best value around. At $3 to $5 a course for lunch and $25 prix fixe for dinner, it is a pretty good deal. Other than that, I enjoy going to UnWine’d for their duck salad, for example, for lighter fare. It is also a great place to extend your food and wine pairing experience. When I go I have Scot pick the wine to match the food. Patrons there are of all ages, students and young professionals and beyond — a very unpretentious place.

For a real democratic experience I would suggest a diner. Where else could you sit between a lawyer and a house painter and get involved in the conversation? In general, diner food is better than most fast foods. At least it is made from scratch.

What are the challenges going forth for new chefs? Fresh ingredients are key; the farm to restaurant initiative is critical. It is important to find and make these relationships with local producers. I prefer to go to farm stands as opposed to farmers markets. You are just that much closer to where the food is produced and it is more fun to be onsite.

The chaining of America is disappointing. I suppose there is a place for it, but I would much rather go to Shorty’s, a local chain. If people think Olive Garden is Italian, I feel sorry for them. NH

Cuisine Eats

Beyond Breakfast: Maple on the Menu
By Barbara Radcliffe Rogers

We expect maple at breakfast — syrup on waffles or pancakes, or the almost expected maple-glazed salmon. But to find this local ingredient in main dishes is more rare.

Chef/owner Michael Buckley starts the menu off with one of the few non-seafood appetizers at Surf (595-9293, in Nashua. Surf Wings are simmered in soy, sherry, maple, onion and mustard before grilling.

At Pinkerton Tavern in Derry (425-6665,, scallops are wrapped in smoky bacon, then brushed with a maple-mesquite glaze before they are roasted for an appetizer. A larger serving is available as an entrée.

Chef Peter Willis of Coyote Rose (356-7673, in North Conway uses maple in his signature starter, the Coyote Rose appetizer. It consists of greens, Manchego cheese, olives and spiced almonds in a maple-and-almond vinaigrette. Although it’s not on the current menu, Chef Willis has in the past created a maple mole — a delicious variation on the traditional Mexican form.

Chef/owner Giovanni Leopardi of the Potter Place Inn (735-5141, in Andover has explored the affinity between maple and duck in a completely new take on the classic duck a l’orange. He pan sears a duck breast and serves it with a glaze that combines maple with the orange for a flavorful tangy-sweet finish.

Chef/owner Luis Pawelek of The Beal House Inn in Littleton (444-2661, has created a maple version of his popular Snapper Tropical. Sautéed snapper is served with a sauce of diced fresh fruits cooked briefly with rum and maple syrup. Chef Pawelek has created an entire repertoire of maple dishes for his March menu. The inn teams up with The Rocks Estate for Maple Weekends in March that include tree tapping and identification at The Rocks, syrup tasting and lodging with breakfast and a three-course dinner of maple-inspired dishes.

Maple makes its way into salads and sides on the main course, as well as in the entrée itself. At the The Manor on Golden Pond (968-3348 or 800-545-2141, in Holderness, Chef Jeff Woolley roasts vegetables in maple and serves them over spring greens as a salad, balancing the sweetness of the vegetables with sweet-potato vinaigrette.

In Portsmouth Executive Chef Lauren Crosby of 43 Degrees North (430-0225, changes the menu daily, but one favorite that reappears is a salad of frisée and shaved fennel, served with a warm pecan vinaigrette, maple-roasted cranberries, Anjou pears and Camembert cheese.

Also in Portsmouth, The Wellington Room’s (431-2989, Chef David Robinson has offered crispy sweet potatoes finished with sweet chili oil, citrus and maple-soy reduction to accompany wild Scottish salmon.

Southern New Hampshire’s maple syrup mecca, Parker’s Maple Barn (878-2308 or 800-832-2308, in Mason offers three varieties of their popular side dish of maple beans. Choose between pea beans, kidney beans or a tasty blend of the two, each enhanced by meaty chunks of pork. Maple baby back ribs combine with eggs as a hearty breakfast entrée. You’ll find Parker’s crowded on weekend mornings, especially in sugaring season, so be prepared to wait at least an hour. You can spend the time visiting the sugarhouse to watch this year’s supply in the making — and ponder what new dishes it will inspire on New Hampshire menus. NH

Cuisine Buzz

The Italian government is promoting a cuisine trade mission to Puglia and has chosen four chefs — all from New Hampshire. They include Pasquale Celoni (Pasquale’s in Candia), Bernie DiFlores (Bermelli’s in Manchester); Steve Stinnett (Manchester Country Club) and Doug Moyer (Abondante in Meredith). Chefs will go over to the Puglia region of Italy and learn more about the cuisine firsthand. They will also visit prestigious wineries and get intensive training in matching wines to the “cucina” of the Puglia region. On their return, a series of wine dinners will be set up to showcase their new knowledge. Rufus Boyett has organized this trip for the International Trade Commission. Contact Boyett at for more information.

The Seedling Cafe (, 9 Water St. in Nashua, just received their beer and wine license and are now carrying organic and local beer and wines. They have 28 beers, with many organic, and all are local. They continue to serve breakfast and lunch, as well as their gourmet-prepared, all-from-New Hampshire meals to take home. Plans are currently underway to add dinner to their service sometime in late February.

— Susan Laughlin

Cheap Eats

By Rachel Forrest

There might still be some snow up in ski country in early spring but, even if there isn’t, Moat Mountain Brewing Co. is a four-season spot for great family fare and, more importantly, beautifully crafted ales and lagers to go with a good meal, including a rich Winter Smokehouse Porter or a refreshing Blueberry Wheat for the summer to come.

The menu here goes beyond traditional pub grub and mixes many American cuisine styles, some with hints of the exotic with appetizers like Asian-style pot stickers with Thai sweet chili sauce and sesame slaw for $6.95. Closer to home are Carolina hush puppies with New Hampshire maple syrup for $4.95. A huge family-style BBQ meal for the whole gang comes with ribs, brisket, pork, chicken, skillet corn bread, slaw, garlic mashed potatoes, black beans and Spanish rice for just $13.95 per person, $5.95 for kids under 12. The restaurant makes its own sauces with a spicy habenero Austin BBQ sauce or a more mild sweet Kansas City style.

Cajun blackened or cornmeal crusted catfish platters are a rare treat and only $12.95. There are also many choices for wraps and wood-fired grilled pizzas, including a new California Dreamin’ style with artichokes, tomatoes and eggplant roasted right in their wood-fired oven.

All of the flavors go well with the original brews and beer lovers can take home half-gallon “growlers” — a jug filled with Hoffman Weiss or the deep golden Iron Mike Pale Ale.

Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewing Co., 3378 White Mountain Highway
North Conway, NH 03860, (603)356-6381,

Red Flannel Hash

The lovely red color of this hash makes a nice presentation. It’s also an excellent way to use up leftover potatoes and corned beef. Recipe courtesy of Brigid Flanigan, cooking instructor at Southern New Hampshire University’s culinary program.

Serves 8

2 cups chopped cooked corned beef
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups minced onion
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons oil or butter
2 1/2 lbs. potatoes, boiled
2 cups grated cooked beets
Salt and pepper to taste
Bacon fat or oil

Boil potatoes in their skins until tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Peel the cooled potatoes and grate on the large-hole side of a box grater. (Use the same side of the grater for the beets.)

Sauté the onions in 2 tablespoons of oil or butter until translucent.
Combine all ingredients, except for the bacon fat or oil in a bowl, to make a paste or dough. Form into 4-ounce patties.

To serve:
Heat a little oil or bacon fat in a sauté pan. Brown patties on both sides and serve.