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Retiring NMSU chef to go from searing fish to catching ?em

If you?re looking for Chef Maurice Zeck this summer, you won?t find him in the usual locations ? the classrooms, kitchens and dining areas of New Mexico State University?s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.

 Man in chef coat talks to students
Chef Maurice Zeck, a college assistant professor in the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, will retire from New Mexico State University in June. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

No, if you want to track down the veteran restaurateur-turned-college professor, whose list of professional awards ranges from the American Culinary Federation President?s Medal for Service to the Industry to the New Mexico Restaurant Association Chef of the Year, you?ll need a sun hat instead of a toque.

?I have a beautiful boat, a tackle store in a bag and a quiver of rods and reels,? Zeck explained when asked about his plans after his June 30 retirement. ?I am going fishing.?

Prior to joining the NMSU faculty, Zeck was the corporate executive chef and business development manager for Sysco Food Service of New Mexico, where he directed the ?Born in New Mexico? program to purchase fresh produce from local growers.

Zeck began teaching at NMSU in 2007. Already a respected leader in the restaurant industry in New Mexico and beyond, Zeck added a bachelor?s degree in business information systems to his résumé in 2011.

He said working closely with students has been a deeply rewarding experience, so he was especially pleased to receive a national award recently for which he was nominated by some of those students ? the National Agri-Marketing Association selected him as Outstanding Professional, an award given each year to recognize a professional involved with a NAMA student chapter who goes above and beyond to improve the quality of the students? experience in the program.

?Maurice Zeck has been a tremendously dedicated faculty member and a great and positive influence on all of our students,? said Greg Blanch, interim director of the School of HRTM. ?We are very appreciative of his efforts on behalf of NMSU.?

An endowed scholarship to benefit an HRTM student has been established in honor of Zeck and his wife, Linda. For information on supporting the endowment, contact Debbie Widger at dwidger@nmsu.edu.

?I love this university, the students and the staff that make it work,? Zeck said. ?I have been blessed to work for wonderful people.?