Your Dining Hall Chefs

Meet the Chefs

Executive Chef Carrie Anderson

Carrie Anderson is a graduate of Baltimore International Culinary College (currently Baltimore International College). Her career in the food service industry began with an obsession with flavors and cooking techniques that started at the age of nine. Over the last fifteen years Carrie has worked for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Dining Services program as a pastry chef for Catering, then a food service chef for residential dining and currently is the executive chef for residential dining. Carrie's commitment to the U of I's pledge of inclusivity has led her to create and facilitate Dining Services' annual Social Justice Training Program as well as facilitating the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations' award-winning Five Days for Change program.

"The best thing I ever ate was from a colleague whose family owned a farm in Greece. They grew olives and made their own olive oil. The first spoonful I placed in my mouth almost had me in tears! I felt like I was tasting olive oil for the first time. It was so pure, fruity and fresh!"


Chef Mike Murphy (Ikenberry Dining Center)

Mike was born and raised in Texas, and fell in love at an early age with Mexican food and its flavors. He graduated from Scottsdale Culinary Institute in 2000 and began his Culinary Career in Chicago as a Garde Manger chef at the Ritz Carlton in Chicago. He worked at various restaurants in Phoenix, AZ, Chicago, IL and Denver, CO, even spent a brief period of time as an owner. He resides in Paxton, IL with his wife and two kids. He is a diehard Dallas Cowboy fan and loves spending time slow smoking choice cuts on his offset smoker.

"The best thing I have ever ate was brisket and beef back ribs from a small smokehouse in Marlin, TX. Food like that takes hours of patience and love. You don’t find food like that every day!"


Chef Beth Partenheimer (Florida Avenue Residence Dining Hall)

Beth received her culinary training at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College. She has worked in several restaurants in the St. Louis and Champaign areas. Beth stays active in the culinary field by participating in workshops and conferences, including the Culinary Institute of America in Helena, CA. Beth’s LAR team has taken two first-place honor and two third-place honors in the annual Dining Services Chefs’ Challenge.  Beth also received a Bronze medal from the American Culinary Association, a Silver Medal with fellow teammates at the Taste of the World conference in 2014, and a Gold Medal for her Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna in 2014. 

"The best thing I have ever eaten would have to be fresh oysters. I like them cooked but prefer them raw. It takes me to the seashore."


Chef Crystol Smith (Lincoln Avenue Residence Dining Hall)

Crystol is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park. She has been in catering and working in restaurants for 10 years before coming to work in Dining Services. Crystol, a pastry chef trade, found her home at the University in 2014 and became a production chef in LAR in 2015. She enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

"The best thing I ever ate was found when I was studying abroad in Florence Italy — a hidden Lebanese food cart that served an out-of-this-world shawarma wrap!"


Chef SooHwa Yu (Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Dining Hall)

SooHwa was born in Seoul, Korea and moved to Champaign-Urbana in 1980. He started working at his family’s restaurant at the age of 15, and later attended the Western Culinary Institute (La Cordon Bleu) in Portland, Ore. He graduated in 1997 with Culinary Arts and right after graduation he found his first chef position at the Hyatt Regency, Chicago. He then moved on to the Hyatt McCormick Place in Chicago, managing the All Season Café and Stetson Chop House. He returned to Champaign-Urbana in 2001 and became employed by the University of Illinois as production chef in 2005 to present. SooHwa continues his education in the culinary arts by earning over 200 continuing education hours and attending Tastes of the World conference for the past seven years. He takes a team to represent University of Illinois dining service where they brought back 3 silvers and 3 bronze medals. “As a Korean-American chef, my most memorable event was at the Hyatt Regency where I planned the menus for a Korean Cultural Event, a celebration for over 300 people. In attendance was the Korean diplomat to the United States, who I was humbled to meet."

“The best thing I ever ate was Crispy Chicken Feet from an outdoor vendor in Korea, who was right outside of the train station. Sweet, sticky, and perfectly charred.”


Chef Adam Volk (Blue 41 and Orange on Green at the Illini Union)

Born and raised in Urbana, Adam has worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years. In addition to working at several local restaurants, he has worked in Chicago and New York City. Adam graduated from Kendall College with an AAS in Culinary arts and a BA in Food and Beverage Management. After graduating he returned home and was the sous chef of a popular downtown Champaign steakhouse. In 2009, Adam moved to New York City where he worked at Buddakan in Manhattan before moving to Astoria, Queens where he ran three popular neighborhood eateries. He now lives in Urbana and enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and two cats, and watching Reds baseball. He doesn’t really want to talk about the latter.

"The best thing I ever ate is tied between Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly Bao w/ Spicy Shallots & Cabbage or Duck Fat Fries!"