Sarah Walor photo
During the day, Brian Kennon works as a seafood and produce buyer for PFG-Virginia Foodservice (his primary job since 2005). In the evenings, he teaches cooking classes for the University of Richmond's culinary-arts program, which opened its new space this past summer. Then there's his part-time gig as a manager and bartender at Big Al's Sports Bar and Grill. "Just because you're not in the kitchen doesn't mean you're not a chef," he says.
Kennon got his start during high school, when his mother was working nights as a nurse, and his father was commuting to theological school in Washington, D.C. "I had to cook out of necessity," he explains. Gradually, however, cooking turned into his life's work.
While attending Randolph-Macon College, Kennon earned pocket change as a short-order cook in the campus snack bar and then completed a senior-year internship at Charlottesville's Farmington Country Club. "I had a business degree, but I couldn't see myself in banking or insurance," he says. So after graduation, he enrolled at Baltimore International Culinary College, after which he became a chef at Fox Head Inn (now The Farmhouse at Manakin Road) — followed by a 14-year stretch as executive chef and part owner of The Tavern at Triangle Park in the West End. During that time, Kennon put his business degree to use: "You'll sink real fast if you can't manage your finances."
He says his back-of-the-house experience from the restaurant industry helps in his current position with PFG: "I know which products are useful and of good value for today's chefs, and I'm able to support our sales team in selling our products because I've been in the customer's shoes." Even though he also is a teacher now, Kennon says he isn't done learning: "I fall asleep to the Food Network."