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Renowned chef Andy Blanton to lead FVCC’s Culinary Institute

by Daily Inter Lake
| June 26, 2024 10:00 AM

Acclaimed local chef Andy Blanton has been selected to lead Flathead Valley Community College’s Culinary Institute of Montana.

Blanton was the owner and executive chef at Cafe Kandahar on Big Mountain for many years before stepping away from the restaurant business in June 2023. 

He leads FVCC’s culinary program after the retirement of chef Howard Karp, who joined the college in 2008 as an adjunct professor. Karp took on the executive chef role in 2012. 

Blanton attended the Culinary Arts Institute of Louisiana in Baton Rouge and later trained at Commanders Palace in New Orleans, the 1996 recipient of the James Beard Award for most outstanding restaurant. He moved to Whitefish in 1999 and was named executive chef at Cafe Kandahar a year later. In 2006, he purchased the restaurant with his parents. 

Blanton's menus at Cafe Kandahar centered on using local and seasonal ingredients to create a Montana fine dining experience. 

He was a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for best chef five times during his tenure at Cafe Kandahar, most recently in 2023. In 2012, he was invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City. 

In a press release, Blanton said he is eager to train the valley's next generation of chefs in his new role at the college. 

“I’m looking forward to a new chapter in my career and being able to share my knowledge, teaching the future of culinary through education," he said. "I look forward to raising awareness for this great program offered right here in the Flathead Valley.”

The public will get the first taste of Blanton’s creations at the FVCC Foundation’s Festival of Flavors fall events, kicking off Sept. 13 and culminating in the 17th annual Grand Wine Tasting at Wachholz College Center. Tickets go on sale on Aug. 1.

FVCC President Jane Karas said Blanton joining the college will ensure the culinary program continues to grow. 

"We look forward to Andy sharing his expertise with our students and the FVCC community,” she commented. 

FVCC’s Culinary Institute of Montana provides students with a wide variety of skills in the culinary arts industry. Students take five semesters of instruction in cooking and baking and additional training involving table services, menus, cost controls, storeroom and stewarding to earn an associate of applied science degree in culinary arts and catering.  

Students help with local events, including Chef’s Tables, Modernist Dinners and FVCC Foundation’s Festival of Flavors.