Todd Sweet: Culinary Chops

Todd Sweet: Culinary Chops

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Executive Chef Todd SweetWhen Todd Sweet was growing up (which wasn’t all that long ago) there were no celebrity chefs. Julia Child, he says, was just an educator.

And that’s part of what inspires the recently-hired Dining Services employee: education. Part of what led him to pursue certification through the American Culinary Federation. And why, now that he has reached the goal, Sweet will continue his studies to eventually try for the master chef certification.

“It’s an eight-day test with a ridiculously high failure rate,” says Sweet, who was hired in May as the new executive chef for Philbrook Dining Hall. “Most jobs don’t prepare you for it. Or they don’t have the resources. At UNH, they do.”

But for now, Sweet is satisfied to be ACF-certified, and looks forward to Philbrook opening in a few weeks so he can settle into his new job. This summer he has been working in Holloway Commons.

To earn the ACF certification, Sweet had to take classes in nutrition, sanitation and supervision; complete a 100-question written exam; take a practicum exam where he had to create a menu and three-course meal from limited ingredients; and have five years experience as an executive chef.

Sweet has those and then some; he has been working in kitchens for 30 years, starting as a dishwasher when he was 12 years old.

“I’ve only ever done cooking; it’s the only job I’ve ever had,” he says.

His resume is extensive, starting with attending the Culinary Institute of America, where he completed an internship in Paris at a 3-start restaurant. He has worked in Austria, at McCrady’s Restaurant in South Carolina, (its chef won the 2010 James Beard Best Chef Southeast award), and on a cruise ship where he worked five months without a day off.

“I had to bust out my kitchen German; I was the only American on the ship,” Sweet says, adding, “I spoke enough to get by.”

Sweet also worked at the Canterbury Shaker Village, and will return there in the fall to teach a Shaker baking class. He describes Shaker food as fresh, using lots of herbs and paying attention to flavor, hygiene, and technique. 

“The same perfection that would show in a Shaker chair that people admire so much is the same care that goes into their cooking,” Sweet says.

He has taught at the Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Dover as well.

Sweet is the newest chef working for Dining Services to be ACF certified. Brian Place and Christopher Kaschak are both executive chefs, with Place working in Stillings Dining Hall and Kaschak in Holloway Commons.

“I’m really impressed with the craftsmanship at UNH. There is a lot of interest in making the students’ dining experience the best it can be. Our menus strive to be varied; they strive to be international,” Sweet says. “I feel lucky to be here.”