By Jay Wu
Staff Writer and Reporter
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa.- When the fall semester commenced, Café 780 had hours that were short and affected student engagement.
In a short amount of time, the café now has extended hours and hired a brand new chef named Landis Crawford.
According to Crawford, he was adopted from Honduras when he was less than a year old. “My adoptive parents, Edward and Janis Crawford are from Howland, Ohio, which is a suburb of Warren, Ohio,” he stated.
Also, he said that AVI Headquarters, which Café 780 has correlations with, was from Warren, Ohio. “I have known about AVI for as long as I can remember with the first knowledge of them,” he explained.
Before having an interest in the culinary field, he attended Youngstown State University. After that, he has had a plethora of jobs in the culinary field. “I have always held jobs in the culinary field, starting as a dishwasher at a local diner in Warren and another in Cortland, Ohio before deciding that it was really a field that could keep up with my personality and speed,” Crawford stated.
Also, he worked with his mother at the Gordon D. James Career Center in Lordstown, Ohio. According to Crawford, they offered a culinary program and in 2008, he decided to attend the Pennsylvania culinary institute called Le Cordon Bleu in Pittsburgh, PA.
In September 6, 2016, Crawford started working at Penn State New Kensington. He has become fascinated with the employees that he has met along with the students and environment that he has witnessed. “I am very fortunate to have inherited a very good and knowledgeable crew that have the experience to run the café,” he said.
Crawford has been working at the campus for a couple months now and has made an effort to improve the cafe in order for students to become more involved with the cafe. “As far as changes to the café, the culinary field is ever-changing and improving,” Crawford explained.
He also went on to state that searching for a balance between students and healthy food options can’t be ignored. “The biggest topics moving forward are healthy food options which means, just like creating a great meal is finding balance in healthy options and the stable foods that can’t be vacant from campus life,” he said.
With Landis Crawford working at the campus since September, students have had a good response to the new chef. Ben Lesko, a senior IST major, stated, “I think that Landis is very involved with the students and think that he is really into his job,” he said.
Billy Carney, a senior Psychology major, stated, “He seems like a very good guy and he is always trying new things,” he explained.
When it comes to new culinary dishes that Crawford has prepared for the students at PSNK, the students have developed an interest on how it is prepared and how it tastes. According to Lesko, “I think he has put a lot more healthy choices and has took that idea to our advantage,” he said.
According to Carney, he has heard a plethora of optimistic reviews of his culinary styles. “It is high quality and looks good,” he explained.
Culinary styles are another method that students witness in a good chef like Landis Crawford. Lesko stated that Crawford has a variety of styles when it arrives to cooking for the students at the campus. “We have so much diversity because people like different things so, I think his style is perfect,” said Lesko.
Carney stated his opinion on Crawford’s cooking as experimental and likes to exceed student expectations.
When trying new culinary dishes that Crawford has prepared for the students, some have a particular dish that they really adored. Lesko explains that his favorite dish was a special pork roast that contained mashed potatoes. “It was a very well balanced meal and tastes really good,” he said.
Carney stated that his favorite dishes by Crawford were the gourmet sandwiches that he prepared.
With on-campus events always ensuing, students appreciate how Crawford is always engaged with the students and really entailed with the lifestyle that the campus has to offer. According to Lesko, “I think he is really involved with the events that we have been having on campus and has been giving them tips on how to do things,” he stated.
According to Carney, the individuals that have interacted with Crawford really like him along with the faculty. “He is popular with the students and faculty,” he stated.
Café 780 in Penn State New Kensington has many meal options available for students and a plethora of changes may be implemented in order to search the needs for students who have a special diet or restrictions. So far, Landis Crawford has completed a successful job and Penn State New Kensington welcomes him to Café 780.