Rollie Wesen

Assistant Professor,  College of Culinary Arts

Contact Information
Every set of students is on a curve. ... Some students come to culinary school with professional cooking experience, while others have never held a knife. The key is to challenge each student to grow from the point at which they started.”


Rollie Wesen is Assistant Professor in the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island and a resident lecturer at Boston University and at the Community Kitchen, RI Food Bank. He is also the co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of the nonprofit Jacques Pépin Foundation.

After 20 years of professional cooking experience, including stints at Michelin-starred restaurants in London and France, 8 years in New York City, and as a banquet chef for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Rollie joined the faculty at Johnson & Wales University. He has since earned a master’s degree in education and is currently working toward his doctorate in Educational Leadership, as well as his Executive Chef Certification through the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

Chef Wesen is passionate about food and teaching. In the classroom, he strives not only to inspire excellent culinary technique, but strong personal and professional character development.

Personal Statement

When I think of what it is that motivates me to teach, what stands out are these “aha” moments. The points at which I see the lights go on in a student’s eyes. When I see them connecting with the material, making meaning of it, I get a rush of satisfaction. Not just that I have done my job, but that I was able to pass on something important, something that might give a student an opportunity, even change a student’s life. Ultimately I measure my success by my students’ success; it’s not built on the the teaching, but on the learning.

The first step in inspiring all students to learn is to create a comfortable, safe, respectful and nurturing environment. Students regularly comment on my evaluations that I was “approachable,” that they felt “comfortable asking questions,” that I was “supportive” and that I “believed in them.”

The next step is to provide clearly-stated learning objectives. Everyone works better when they know what they are working toward. People perform at their best when those goals are just beyond their comfort zone. Students like to be challenged, and providing clear learning goals in a framework of high expectations, challenges them to do their best.

To achieve this nurturing atmosphere, focusing on excellent organization is essential. Daily lesson plans that students can access, assignments that align obviously and concretely with curricular goals, richly written rubrics that illustrate what good and excellent work looks like are a few of the teaching tools that I employ.

Also critical are classroom norms and procedures. At Johnson & Wales University, I teach culinary lab classes. Daily, we review theoretical content and then execute the concepts through live cooking. In this context it is imperative that everyone knows exactly their tasks and responsibilities. Standards for student interaction and student/teacher interaction must be established and maintained for the group to be successful.

Areas of Expertise

  • Cheese
  • Classical and regional French cuisines
  • Culinary pedagogy
  • Food allergies
  • Local and seasonal cuisine
  • Snout-to-tail cooking

Sample Courses

  • CUL 1115: The Science of Cooking & Sensory Analysis
  • CUL 1015: Introduction to Culinary Foundations
  • CUL 2265 Classical Cuisines of France & Italy