Spartans of UD: Andrew Mettert
Feb 26, 2020
Spartans of UD highlights what makes University of Dubuque special – the people who live, work, and study on campus.
Andrew Mettert, better known as Chef Andy, is an executive chef. He started at UD in fall 2005.
1. How did you get started in the culinary world?
“I grew up on a small farm in Michigan where we grew a large garden to freeze produce for the winter months and we raised chickens, milk cows, steers, and a pig. This gave me a firm grasp of where food comes from and the work that goes into feeding a family. My mother was originally from Rhode Island and every summer we would take a road trip to visit her side of the family. Her mother and father were immigrants from Italy, so I was exposed to some great Italian food as well as all the things the ocean has to offer. When I was pretty young, I made the observation that it was my grandfather who was doing most of the cooking and he seemed to be really enjoying it. I would see him in the kitchen with a glass of wine making dinner, wearing both an apron and a smile. This spiked my curiosity a bit: How did he learn to make all of these things? I don’t know if he ever noticed me watching every time we visited, but I was. I took a little bit of his ‘magic’ home to Michigan and played around in the kitchen whenever I could.
“My true ‘calling’ is art. I consider myself an artist and had intended to go to school and study graphic design/commercial art. What ended up happening is I made a reconnection with the wonder of food that I had as a young boy and found that I could make a living doing something that fulfilled my creative needs. I discovered a place where creativity was more than working with paint, clay, or graphite."
2. What has been the most rewarding part of being an executive chef at University of Dubuque?
“It was not until my second year or so at UD that I was reminded by my best friend what a cool job I have. My reply was, ‘I am just a cook!’ He said to me, ‘How can you say that? You interact with a huge variety of people who count on you to nourish them and be a comforting face if they are homesick, stressed, or just down.’ This fact was staring me right in the face and I did not see it. Being here at UD has given me the opportunity to be a positive influence in people’s lives – sometimes in very big ways and other times it could be as simple as a smile.”
3. When you create menus, what are some of the things you take into consideration?
“There are many things that are considered when we write menus such as the cost of the food, quality of the end product, how well the menu is received, and whether the product is too ‘old school’ or out of touch with current trends. We also ask whether we are pushing ourselves to learn new skills or expose the UD community to new types of cuisine. A great example of pushing ourselves to prepare a cuisine that might be new to UD students, faculty, and staff is Spring Convocation and Celebration.”
4. What is your favorite spot on campus? Why?
“I love to walk around the halls of the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences in the University Science Center. There are displays of all types and even live animals at times. It helps me feel connected to the earth for some reason. A close second would be the Barbara and Jack Smeltzer Dining Hall in Peters Commons – it has character and a long history.”
5. Can you share one of your favorite recipes?
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
1. Place flour in a mixing bowl, add salt, and mix.
2. In a separate bowl, slightly beat the egg.
3. Add the beaten egg to the flour/salt mixture and mix until a stiff dough forms. If needed, add the water.
5. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for three to four minutes.
6. Run the dough through a pasta machine or roll the dough by hand until desired thickness is reached.
7. Cut the past to desired size(s) – bow tie, fettuccine, stuffed ravioli, or any other shape.
8. To cook, place pasta in boiling water until tender. Be careful not to overcook the pasta; fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried.
Basic White Sauce
1 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 quart milk
1 cup cheese (choice varies on dish being made)
1. Place butter in a sauce pan and melt.
2. Add flour and whisk until blended.
3. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture starts to bubble for about five minutes – stirring constantly.
4. Add cold milk and whisk until all lumps are dissolved.
5. Add cheese and whisk until smooth.
6. Continue to stir until sauce comes to approximately 185 degrees. It is at this point the cheese should be completely melted and the sauce is as thick as it will get.
7. Add more cheese or milk to thin or thicken as desired.
8. Add seasoning of choice.