Penn College students assist Food Network star at PA Farm Show

An “Iron Chef” was among the culinarians who joined Pennsylvania College of Technology students to showcase the quality ingredients produced by Pennsylvania farms at the state Farm Show.

The students volunteered the final days of their winter break at the event, where they worked with some of Pennsylvania’s best chefs — and Food Network star Chef Alex Guarnaschelli — to prepare ingredients for the chefs’ demonstrations on the PA Preferred Culinary Connection stage and to cook samples of the recipes for Farm Show visitors.

During two demonstrations, Guarnaschelli taught audiences to make stuffed white mushrooms and broiled cauliflower steaks, both recipes from her latest cookbook. Backstage, she provided guidance to the students as they prepared samples of her dishes.

“It has been a pleasure to work with these students today,” Guarnaschelli said. “I think that if they learned nothing else, they learned the importance of salt in amplifying flavor and that, without it, everything else is just fluff.”

While at the Farm Show, Penn College students facilitated two days of demonstrations by 11 chefs, including four Penn College alumni and two faculty members: Michael J. Ditchfield, instructor of hospitality management/culinary arts; Darren Layre, ’15, sous chef at Eleven, Pittsburgh; Paul Mach, assistant professor of hospitality management/culinary arts; Richard McGlynn III, garde manger chef at Morcilla, Pittsburgh; Lance Smith, ’06, executive chef of The Millworks, Harrisburg; and Kristina Wisneski, ’13, executive chef of Enoteca Tredici, Bryn Mawr.

Each demonstration recipe was assigned to a student, who took charge of its preparation. The students also lent a hand to chefs on-stage, mixing, chopping or otherwise ensuring each demonstration ran smoothly.

Students volunteering at the Farm Show were: William D. Benedetto, of Howard; Bridget M. Callahan, of Pottsville; Tyler C. Geer, of Wellsboro; Paul J. Herceg, of Chalfont; Olivia M. Lunger, of Elysburg; Brittany L. Mink, of Allentown; Stephanie C. Myers, of Catawissa; Jacob W. Parobek, of Seltzer; Amaris T. Smith, of Williamsport; Kelsie F. Thomas, of Darby; and Danielle R. Wesneski, of Williamsport.

They were accompanied by Ditchfield and Chef Todd M. Keeley, instructor of baking and pastry arts.

Most of the students are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in culinary arts and systems. Geer, Lunger and Wesneski are pursuing degrees in baking and pastry arts. Thomas is pursuing a degree in culinary arts technology, and Mink, who earned an associate degree in baking and pastry arts in 2016, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in applied management.

For more information about hospitality majors at Penn College, call 570-327-4505 or visit