Meg Diehl: All about the students

Meg Diehl has traveled the world as a private chef, but she is happiest when she’s teaching in the kitchen at Seasoned, SUNY Adirondack’s downtown Glens Falls restaurant.

“Teaching is great, but the students are what make teaching great,” said Diehl, talking about the students who attend yoga with her, the many she’s still in touch with and the one she drove to the hospital when they broke their arm and didn’t have anyone else to call.

Diehl studied art history in college, but graduated during the recession when there were no jobs in the field. She grew up working in restaurants — “It was a way for me to pay the bills. I did everything: I dish washed, I waited tables, I bar tended. I paid my way through college,” she said — so she enrolled in culinary school.

The since-closed culinary institute she attended focused on plant-based eating and being proactive for the human body and the environment, but taught the French technique. 

After graduating, Diehl started cooking privately for a family who summers in Bolton Landing, where she grew up. For more than 10 years, she traveled the world with them, to their homes in various countries. 

“I was cooking for upward of 35 to 45 people a day, staff, family and friends, at huge estates on Lake George,” she said. “I’d have to to buy new plates for the meal that day, find 45 new plates in August because you couldn’t use paper because they didn’t like that.”

The role was a good fit. She still cooks privately for people who want to celebrate a special occasion.

“You don’t have any freedom; you cook what they tell you to cook,” she said. “I loved it, even when there were insane requests of specific brands of food you can’t buy in upstate New York.”

She learned a lot about all things culinary and now teaches any courses needed at SUNY Adirondack. 

“I cannot teach butchering, but all the others I am able to teach and it’s a nice thing to be able to have in the back pocket,” she said. 

Her favorite, though, is Intro to Food Prep. “It’s where students get to figure out if they want to continue or not, if culinary is for them or not,” she said. “It’s a great space for people of all different skill levels. We have some students who come to us because they’re stay-at-home moms and want to learn to feed their families better. They always think they’re going to be the worst and they’re always the best. A lot of times, the students who come in and think they’re going to be really successful are just mediocre, then there are always students who surprise you.

“There are students in every class I’ve taught who have moved me, changed me and surprised me,” she said.