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A Living Legacy

Munkel succeeds father as dining services manager

Chris Munkel, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America-Hyde Park and an employee of Sodexho since 1997, recently was named manager of dining services, succeeding his father, Mike Munkel, who was the manager for 14 years. The elder Munkel died in October from complications associated with cancer.

“Chris is a very talented chef and in 2003, took third place in the National Culinary Cooking Challenge, sponsored by the National Association of College and University Food Services, (NACUFS),” said Rich Katzman, Sodexho district manager.

“I would like everyone to know that I am not here to ‘fill my father’s shoes,’” said Munkel. “UTM and the Martin community knew Mike Munkel for 14 years. I knew him my whole life. Knowing him that long, especially as your father, makes you realize you can never fill the shoes of a man that great. I will promise to always do my best to meet the expectations of the UTM students, faculty and staff while using my expertise to bring innovative ideas and keep UTM at the pinnacle of dining service programs.

Munkel said, “With that, I will use what my father has taught me to hopefully make a fraction of the impact Mike Munkel made on what I am now proud to call my home, Martin, Tenn.”

Chris’ father, Mike, was recognized for his community service work around West Tennessee. He received the 2003 Harold Love Community Service Award, given by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. He also led efforts to fill Christmas stockings and Easter baskets for underprivileged children.

“Mike was a beloved figure at UTM,” said Chancellor Nick Dunagan. “He cared deeply about students and went out of his way to make students feel like the cafeteria was their home away from home.” “He was a great man,” Dunagan said.

Munkel, who also has served as a Sodexho-certified trainer, received his degree in culinary arts in 1993. He has served as executive chef at Arkansas State University, Georgia Tech University, Georgia State University, Carthage College and most recently, as a regional executive chef responsible for culinary development within the Sodexho Campus Services Division.

UTM contracts with Sodexho Dining Services for its food service. Prior to attending the Culinary Institute of America, Munkel worked for Sodexho in the 1980s as an hourly team member. Before returning to Sodexho in 1997, he worked at several four- and five-star restaurants, including La Vielle Maison in Boca Raton, Fla., Stonn Hill Inn in Hackensack, N. J., The Coach House in Lexington and the Regatta in Cotuit, Mass.

“Sometimes in life you are lucky enough to end up in a place that embraces you and gives you more love than you could ever give back. That place for me is Martin, Tenn. I am lucky to be part of this community.”

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