Kate Van Rensselaer Rench '94

Which dorm(s) did you live in?
Burpee for two years, then Abbey for one, then I lived off campus for my senior year.

What do you remember most about Colby-Sawyer? The close group of friends that I had, the good times, Skiing in the winter, and the mountains in the fall.

Which staff/faculty member inspired you most?
Jon Keenan. We spent many hours together building kilns and working and talking about pottery. He taught me to have passion in what I was doing and to slow down and enjoy the moment. I considered him to be one of my closest friends when I was in college.

How do you think your classmates remember you?
As the artist/ski bum that always liked to have a good time.

Where do you live now?
Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

How'd you end up there?
I moved here right after college and loved it but needed to leave and experience life. Moved to Boulder, CO, for a couple of years, then to NYC for three years where I went to culinary school and worked under a famous chef, then to Conn. for one year, and that brought me back here. I decided that if I was going to have the career that I chose and work the hours that I do I wanted to be able to walk out my back door and enjoy the place that I was living.

Which career did you choose?
I'm chef and owner of Café Diva. It's a fine dining restaurant located below one of the largest ski mountains in North America.

How did you get from your major, studio art, to running a restaurant?
As a starving artist I always ended up working in restaurants to support myself. Anyway, being a chef is being an artist and a plate is a blank canvas.

So are you the diva that the restaurant is named for?
No, the name was already created. There's opera in the restroom.

You went to college at the base of Mt. Kearsarge. Now you're at the base of another mountain. Coincidence?
Absolutely not. I hike Kearsage all the time. I hike Mount Washington and many other places. I love the outdoors. I was also on the ski team at Colby-Sawyer. Jill Firstbrook made me a great skier. Now I telemark and snowboard.

Do you have a signature dish?
My restaurant is very eclectic. My menu is local, seasonal, and fresh. Right now the favorite is a pan-roasted corn, scallop, lobster and prawn saute.

It's time for some frivolous questions. What's your favorite TV show?
Top Chef and Lost.

Last book read?
The Fourth Star. It's a restaurant book.

Which celebrity chef do you most admire?
Jean George. I worked for him for three years. But if you are talking about Food Network chefs they all kind of drive me nuts.

To learn more about Kate's restaurant, Café Diva, visit http://www.cafediva.com.

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