college of culinary arts

college of culinary arts

Chef Shines on Island TV
JWU Culinary Alumni Jason Peru

Imagination and flare have redefined the stardom of celebrity chefs in America. “I think I have that,” said Chef Jason Peru ’06, realizing he could take those talents back home to Trinidad and Tobago with two goals: to be a culinary lecturer and to have his own TV show.

As a chef-lecturer at the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality & Tourism Institute (TTHTI), Peru accomplished his first goal. “I wanted to apply what I learned at JWU in academics and practical training and bring it here. The administration recognized I had the expertise and experience from being at an international university … I put a lot into place — a lot of the courses, new teachings and new trends.”

Even the avant-garde gastromolecular cuisine — manipulating the chemical properties of food to recreate select flavors in exotic forms — is slowly being adopted.

Peru’s TV presence evolved over time. After having “many doors slammed in my face,” he got enough small gigs to impress producer Lisa Wickham, who offered him his own show. “Fast Food Fixes in Five” premiered in April on, a Web-based television station under EZone Entertainment Ltd. Co., and will air on broadcast television in late summer.

Peru is ecstatic about his success. “At the age of 24, I am pleased to say that I have attained this dream of mine. I am finally recognized as a chef-lecturer as well as a TV chef … I always think I have the upper edge over someone else due to my experience of going to such a prestigious university as JWU.”
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JWU Culinary alumni John DePuma's Gluten Free NicheFilling the Gluten-Free Niche
When John DePuma’s ’00 wife, Gina, was diagnosed with celiac disease and put on a gluten-free diet five years ago, she missed eating good pasta. So DePuma spent more than a year working on a recipe for gluten-free pasta and then began making it at home. Three years later, he opened DePuma’s Gluten Free Pasta in New Haven, Conn., and sells his products online.

According to Richard Coppedge Jr. ’82, author of “Gluten- Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America,” about one percent of Americans — an estimated three million — have celiac disease, but 97 percent are undiagnosed. Symptoms of celiac and non-celiac gluten intolerance include stomach pain, bloating and intestinal distress.

JWU tackled the issue four years ago by co-sponsoring the Gluten-Free Summit at the Denver Campus along with GF Culinary Productions. The summit became an annual event. Speakers at the October 2009 forum included JWU chefinstructors Eric Stein ’04 and Marcia Kramer ’97 and Robert Landolfi ’91, author of the “Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook.”

Marleen Swanson, RD, chair of culinary nutrition at the Denver Campus, stresses the importance of educating students on the topic. “By having our students learn to bake more in the focus of gluten-free … they’re going to have a niche in the market.”

DePuma concurs. “Mainstream supermarkets have gluten-free aisles or shelves … Chefs are more aware about what is going on and how to accommodate people with celiac.” The gluten-free food market is growing dramatically. Research by Packaged Facts puts the gluten-free market at nearly $700 million in 2007.
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Image above: John DePuma ’00 and wife, Gina, outside DePuma’s Gluten Free Pasta, a thriving niche business in New Haven, Conn.

quick take:culinary arts

Adrianne Calvo ’04 recently served 50 guests a five-course meal they could not see — only taste, at her Kendall Restaurant in Miami, Fla. “By taking away the sense of sight, the other five taste senses ... are heightened,” said Calvo.