Timothy Conklin, Executive Chef, University Dining Services
“As UMass Lowell keeps growing, I get to do things I've never done before.”
Tim Conklin can attribute his career as a professional chef to a bit of personal misfortune.
Conklin was working as a photographer in his native New York when his camera equipment was stolen. Bereft of the tools of his trade, he decided on a radical career change. He enrolled in the New York Restaurant School.
Already well-acquainted with commercial kitchens — he got his first job at age 12 stacking bottles in a Long Island deli — Conklin completed the 18-month culinary training program and took a job with Marriott International. He worked his way up the ranks, first in New York and then Boston, before arriving at UMass Lowell in 2009.
Now the Executive Chef of the University’s Dining Services, Conklin is in charge of food served at the campus dining halls, restaurants, catering and special events. He loves the variety of services that he oversees and the numerous projects with which he’s involved.
“There’s no other place like it. There are all these different lines of business - residential, retail and restaurants,” he says. “And as we keep growing, I get to do things I've never done before like providing input on the new dining facility at Fox Hall. And I still get to cook.”
Conklin is devoted to using the freshest ingredients possible and favors locally grown fresh produce, meats and fish whenever possible.
“Why buy asparagus from Chile in December when I can buy butternut squash that was grown right down the street?” he says.
In early 2013, Conklin earned his ProChef Level 3 Certification from the Culinary Institute of America, joining an elite group of professional chefs from colleges, and entertainment and sports venues across the country. The certification process includes four days of rigorous testing of culinary, managerial and financial skills.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Conklin says.
Even in his spare time, Conklin is devoted to learning more about cooking. He’s a big fan of cable shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” and devours cookbooks and biographies of famous chefs, which are a source of inspiration.
“I love anything educational,” he says. “I like learning about the science of food and teaching the people around me.”
Conklin lives in Hampton, N.H. with his wife Michelle, a school teacher in Everett, Mass., and their basset hound Sophie.