Fryeburg Academy Alumni Association President, Jennifer Stacy Bartlett ’93, awarded the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award to Alan Whitaker ’77, long-time director of FA’s food service.
Alan grew up in Fryeburg, the eldest child of Rochelle and Fred Whitaker, and was a graduate of the Academy’s class of 1977. In his senior yearbook, you will find that Alan was voted “Quietest” by his peers.
Following graduation, Alan attended culinary school at SMVTI (Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute). His first job out of college was at the Belmont Hill School in Belmont, MA, where his uncle was the head chef. He returned to Fryeburg to work for Siler’s Food Service contracted by the Academy to run the cafeteria. After a year, Alan approached Headmaster, Harry True, about taking over the service. Mr. True hired Alan, along with longtime co-worker, Don Wentworth ‘67. At the time of his hire, the cafeteria was located in the old Alumni House. In 1984, the Academy embarked on its first ever capital campaign, raising money for the LaCasce Dining Hall and Minnie Matson Student Union. Alan and his crew moved into what was at the time, a state of the art facility. Thirty years later, you can still find Alan hard at work in the same kitchen.
Alan’s interest in food service began with his employment by Dick Krasker at Forest and Indian Acres Camps. He was just 14 when he started working in the camp kitchens. Forty-five years later, Alan, continues to head up the food service department at both Fryeburg camps as well as Wekeela in Hartford, Maine. In May, when the Academy closes its doors for the summer, Alan and his staff head a few miles down the road to the camps on the banks of the Saco River. Countless number of FA students have found summer employment in the camp kitchens.
Reunion weekend is a big deal at Fryeburg Academy. People come from near and far to visit the campus, reconnect with friends and enjoy Alan’s unforgettable reunion feast, complete with his amazing seafood newburg and roast beef. There is a reason that the menu hasn’t changed much in 35 years. Alan also caters countless numbers of FA events, including staff Christmas dinners, graduation celebrations, parent and trustee luncheons, and faculty and staff gatherings. He is always the one behind the scenes making it work.
Most of Alan’s staff have been with him for decades including Don Wentworth ‘67 and Kevin Whitaker ‘82 for 30 plus years, Julie Barton Denney ‘73 for over 25, and Sandie Panno Whitaker ‘86 for 20 plus. Alan’s two kids, Kristen ‘04 and John ‘06 are Fryeburg Academy grads.