Chef Karp Stays at FVCC

By Beacon Staff

Chef Howard Karp’s booming voice and in-your-face personality will not be leaving the Flathead Valley Community College’s kitchen anytime soon. After announcing this spring that he planned to leave the culinary program he helped build, Karp has decided to stay at the school in a new and expanded role.

Karp’s new job will be executive chef for the entire college and in that position he will head up all catering as well as the school’s cafeteria. He will also continue to organize the apprentice program and popular Chef’s Table event. Although the school was preparing for Karp’s departure – and a search for his replacement had already begun – administrators wanted the chef to stay.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity and the school is growing, which means the population is growing and people are going to keep eating,” Karp said. “They’ve offered me an opportunity to make this program better than it already is.”

Having a chef of Karp’s caliber is rare at a school like FVCC, but when he moved to the area four years ago he was ready for a change of pace, after working in restaurants and hotels from Europe to the United States. In late 2008, he was hired as an adjunct professor and, at the time, the school’s culinary program was just getting off the ground. With the leadership of Karp and Hillary Ginepra, director of culinary instruction, the program took off and has become one of college’s signature offerings.

Katie Fries, spokesperson for the college, said she and everyone else were surprised by Karp’s decision to stay, but added that it’s an exciting development. She also said there will be no “hiccups” in the Chef’s Table program.

“For the college and culinary program, the Chef’s Table is such an asset and having Howard remain a part of that is just great,” she said.

The veteran chef will also begin heading up the school’s cafeteria and he looks forward to offering a high-quality product to students and staff who frequent the Eagle’s Nest Cafe. Karp’s hope is that in time the general public will want to eat there as well, being able to enjoy a gourmet meal on a budget.

FVCC also hired a handful of recent graduates to work under Karp in various positions in the kitchen. Tony Palmer, who graduated this May, will head up catering services and said the return of Karp will only help the program grow.

“We all have a positive outlook for the future and (Howard’s) been a huge part of that,” Palmer said.

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