Mad Scientist? Pastry Chef? JWU Alum Finds Success as Both

Widely considered one of this country’s most innovative pastry chefs, JWU alum Ben Roche ’02 loves to play with his food — literally.

img Body Culinary Roche '01 DVC Demo

The Kitchen as Science Lab
During a recent visit to the Charlotte Campus as the latest Distinguished Visiting Chef (DVC), Roche wowed students with his command of technique and unusual flavor pairings.

As executive chef at Chicago’s Baume + Brix and the onetime co-host of the Planet Green show “Future Food,” Roche doesn’t just deconstruct your favorite foods: using items more often seen in a lab than a kitchen, he pulverizes, liquefies and molds familiar ingredients until they’re no longer recognizable.

Fun with Liquid Nitrogen
Roche is constantly pushing himself to try things he’s never done before. For his demo, he whipped up three out-of-this-world creations: dessert nachos, doughnut soup and an earl gray-chocolate mousse with ice cream and cookie crumbles.

His dessert nachos were a perfect example of his “expect the unexpected” philosophy: they looked like picture-perfect tacos, but the ingredients were sweet, not savory.

Ben Roche '00 Demo Fun with Liquid Nitrogen

His earl gray ice cream was made by pouring liquid nitrogen directly onto the base, sending up plumes of icy smoke. Voilà: instant dessert.

The Future of Food
Roche clearly has a lot of fun in the kitchen, and he encouraged students to do the same. He emphasized keeping up with trends and techniques and learning as much as possible.

“Find new ways of thinking about food,” he said.

Read about Kate Braun '13, a baking & pastry major who received a DVC scholarship in Roche’s name and assisted him during his demo.