Merced County Times Newspaper
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Register to participate in an ‘Ask Me Anything’ with UC Merced Executive Chef


In honor of Zero Waste June, the University of California, Merced is hosting an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on June 7 at 2 p.m. with Mitch Vanagten, an expert in sustainable food and food waste.

“Zero Waste June” is the theme of the virtual event.  The goal of zero waste is sending no waste to landfill, incinerators, and the ocean.  Zero waste also refers to encouraging the economy to be less wasteful in production and consumption.

The virtual AMA is free and open to the public.

Those interested can register at

Erin Meyer, MS, Sustainable Food Programs Coordinator, Office of Leadership, Service and Career, Office of Sustainability at UC Merced, told the Times, “Mitch Vanagten is the Executive Chef at UC Merced.  There is a big dining center, the Pavilion, and he’s the chef there.

“He’s a really passionate expert and advocate for local food, food waste, sustainable food, and getting more local fresh fruit and vegetables into the schools, which is known as farm to school.

“He and I hosted a food waste documentary called ‘Wasted’, and we’ve done a couple of food waste workshops together.”

Meyer, who started the AMA series in May 2020, told the Times, “I thought it would be an easy way during the pandemic for people to get together virtually and do some networking and learn some things.

“Mitch will come online for the event, and people will Zoom in and might ask questions about how he got into culinary school, or someone who wants to eat more nutritious food will ask about that, or someone might ask about the financial piece of running a dining center, so it could be a lot of different things.”

Since his lifelong passion for cooking began at a young age in his family’s Dutch/Indonesian household, an interesting question might be how did the unique culture of his family impact his choices when it came to what types of food he created and cooked during his career as a chef.

Other things which might be interesting to ask Chef Mitch would be about his efforts in hunger relief, healthy eating education, and local sustainable agriculture.

Chef Mitch has volunteered at the Empty Bowl fundraiser, FEAST Scholarship Fundraiser, The Wasted! Movie free screening, and various fundraisers at UC Merced and in the Merced community to support hunger relief, local agriculture scholarships, and healthy eating initiatives.

Those who can’t attend the event but have a question they would like to ask Mitch, can still participate by e mailing Erin Meyer in advance at [email protected] 

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