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Director of Dining Services wins journalism award

By Domenica Ghanem
On April 8, 2013

  • UConn’s Director of Dining Services Dennis Pierce, above, won a Connecticut Agricultural Journalism Award this year. He was nominated for his columns about local agriculture in Neighbors, a monthly newspaper published out of Ashford, Conn. CORYN WASSIK The Daily Campus

Dennis Pierce, the Director of Dining Services, won a Connecticut Agricultural Journalism Award for the second year in a row. Pierce was honored with $100 and a plaque from the non-profit Connecticut Agricultural Information Council for "Best Series/Periodicals."
"I was surprised when I received the notification telling me I got it," said Pierce, who is happy that "someone recognized my work, something I do as a hobby. It's like being in school again; I don't get paid and there's a monthly deadline."
Pierce was nominated based on columns he wrote for Neighbors, a monthly newspaper published out of Ashford. He began writing his column "From the Ground Up, Buying Locally in Connecticut" on Connecticut grown agriculture a little over three years ago.
As an English major, Pierce was unsure whether to venture in the direction of the literary or the culinary arts, but through writing about local agriculture, he was able to get the best of both worlds. "My long term goal is to find an agent and write a recipe book on Connecticut grown agriculture," said Pierce.
Pierce has had plenty of experience with local farms. "Being the director of dinning services at UConn, I have a keen interest in local foods," he said. He was also the Market Master for the Storrs farmer's market for nine years.
Each month Pierce features a locally grown product and pairs it with his own recipe. "I don't consider myself to be a traditional cook," Pierce said, quoting recipes like cold squash soup using mango ginger hot sauce, oatmeal soup with onions and maple syrup and Greek pizza made with ingredients bought from a student plant sale.
Pierce takes pride in displaying unique farmers and farming techniques. He writes not only about what the farmers do, but why they do what they do. He seeks to convey how strongly the farmers feel about agriculture in Connecticut. "The neat thing is, there's so much stuff going on around us that you just don't know exist," said Pierce.
In one of his articles he featured a distillery in Westford where they attach liquor bottles to pear buds growing on trees so that when the bud grows into a fruit, it grows straight into the bottle. Once the fruit is ripe enough they put the alcohol in the bottle, package, and sell it.
It is stories like these that inspire Pierce to keep writing. "This is an opportunity for me to be able to write and show my culinary skills while showcasing those people that don't usually get recognition," Pierce said.
Pierce's blog can be found at:

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