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L. Edwin Brown M’77

L. Edwin Brown M'77L. Edwin Brown said he began his apprenticeship toward becoming a well-known culinary advocate and professor when he was a young child.

“My grandparents had a restaurant,” Brown said, “so when I was six years old, my grandmother taught me how to pare potatoes and put them in the french fry cutter.”

Brown recalled that his grandmother, whom he considered to be an excellent cook, never used a cookbook, instead measuring with her hands.

“My grandmother never had a recipe,” Brown said. “She used a couple of handfuls of this, a couple more of that, and that’s how people cooked at that time.”

Brown attended Penn State University, where he studied hotel administration, and worked at the Nittany Lion Inn in State College.

“The whole time I was in college,” Brown said, “I lived at the inn and worked there.” Brown was just three credits shy of his degree when he was drafted in 1956 and sent to Germany.

“I fell in love with Germany,” he said, “because it was so much like Pennsylvania.”

After returning to State College, he finished his degree in 1958 and was hired full-time at the inn and worked as its food and beverage director for 11 years. In 1969, he became professor and program coordinator of hotel/motel management, food service management, and culinary arts at the Community College of Allegheny County in Monroeville. Brown was at the school for only one week when he, Jack Braun, certified executive chef, and Ferdinand Metz, certified master chef, were asked to develop a three-year, 6,000-hour apprenticeship program, which created a set of national guidelines for apprenticeship standards that were originally registered with the U.S. Department of Labor in 1979 and are continually updated to remain pertinent. In 2012, the program received the 21st Century Registered Trailblazer and Innovator award from the U.S. Department of Labor for its partnership with the US Army.

In order to maintain his status as a faculty member at CCAC, Brown pursued a master’s degree in education at IUP, graduating in 1977.

“I was working full-time, and IUP’s program was during the evening and on Saturdays,” Brown said. He is very pleased to be part of the university’s Distinguished Alumni program. “It’s a great honor to receive this award,” he said, “and I am so blessed to receive this designation. I’m also proud that my library will be housed in the IUP Academy of Culinary Arts in Punxsutawney.”

In 1992, Brown became the secretary general of the World Association of Chefs Societies, which gave him the opportunity to travel each year to Switzerland. Through this position, and as a result of receiving numerous honors, Brown has been able to travel to locations such as Turkey, where he received the Gold Medal of the International Gastronomy Festival; Denmark, where he was honored with the Presidential Medal from the Danish Chefs Association; and Ecuador, where he received the Order of Manuela Saenz.

Brown said his nephew told him, “Uncle Ed, you can travel anywhere in the world and there will be someone at the airport waiting to meet you.” Brown added, “And they’ll all be wearing chef’s hats!”

“I traveled 150 days last year and will have the same schedule this year,” Brown said. “I’m 80 years old, and my philosophy is that we travel in God’s hands and as long as my God is supporting me, I’ll keep on traveling. There will be a day that I can’t travel anymore, but I won’t regret it because I’ve had this great opportunity.”

Several years ago, Brown established a scholarship for culinary students at Penn State, using money that was willed to him. “I help others with money I didn’t earn and didn’t need,” he said. “The first time I wrote the check for the scholarship, my wife, who passed away in 2001, said ‘Isn’t this fun?’”

“I feel that what you give away, you get back tenfold.”

Profile published 4/10/14

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