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Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center
7984 257th Street West 
Farmington, MN 55024-9243

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Phone: 952-469-2175
Fax: 952-469-5564

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July is National Culinary Arts Month and the perfect opportunity to celebrate the talented chefs of Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center! Here’s your chance to meet the faces behind the delicious creations that come from our kitchen.

Culinary Director & Chef
Justin Given

Education & Training
Culinary Arts degree from Hennepin Technical College
Became a Certified Chef de Cuisine by the American Culinary Federation in 2007

When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
I’ve loved cooking ever since I was 4, when I would cook and bake with my mom and grandma. Cooking was a fun, family-centered activity and I always felt comfortable in the kitchen. When I was a teenager, I realized I should put my cooking talents to use professionally and decided I wanted to pursue a career in culinary arts.

How do you get your inspiration?
I love to read food websites and watch the food network. I’m interested in food trends and I make sure I’m plugged in to what is happening in the local food world.

Favorite food to cook?
My favorites are Spanish, Asian, and seafood cuisines.

Favorite kitchen equipment or gadget?
The blender. It’s so versatile.

What do you love most about working at Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center?
I am so fortunate to be part of an amazing staff at the retreat center. And not only do I get to work with nice people, I also get to interact with and meet our guests as well. It’s a joy to cook for them during their stay.
I also love our garden that we have on the grounds. It’s a rarity to work in a kitchen that utilizes fresh produce grown just feet away from the kitchen itself!

Sous Chef Jon LeBlanc

Education & Training
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Minneapolis/St. Paul

When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
When I was 16, my first job was a dishwasher at Applebee’s. I had a first-hand look at the work of the kitchen each day. The head chef was someone I admired – he encouraged a fun and enjoyable atmosphere but also commanded respect from his staff. To me, it was the perfect type of work environment so I decided I wanted to become a chef and continue working in kitchens like that one.

How do you get your inspiration?
Food magazines and my own experimentation.

Favorite food to prepare?
I enjoy cleaning fish and cutting meats as well as grilling and barbequing.

Favorite kitchen equipment or gadget?
Any knife. In my role as Sous Chef I make sure everything that comes into the kitchen is broken down, prepared, and then ready to serve. A knife is my main kitchen tool. I also like “combi-ovens” which can do just about everything: steam, roast, bake…

What do you love most about working at Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center?
I love seeing the smiles on guests’ faces when they are enjoying our food. The compliments we receive make me feel good about the work we are doing. It is a pleasure to be a part of their guest experience during their stay.


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