James O’Hara

Associate Instructor

JWU Faculty Since 2008

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Contact Info


James O’Hara started working in restaurants at the age of 16. After graduating from Kent State University with a bachelors degree in Communications and working in the restaurants for eight years, he decided to pursue his passion of cooking by attending Johnson & Wales University in North Miami, Florida.

Upon graduation, he combined his degree in Communications with his new associate degree in Culinary Arts. Chef O’Hara accepted the role of culinary demonstrator at the North Miami Campus. He spent a year traveling the state of Florida and attending conferences across the country executing cooking demonstrations and promoting the University. After a year of demonstrations and traveling, O'Hara began his adventure in the private cooking sector, becoming the executive chef of a privately owned yacht and traveling the globe.

After four years of cooking privately at sea, Chef O’Hara moved to Chicago, Illinois, and started his own private chef business on land, Chef du Jour. He spent four years in Chicago cooking for multiple high-end clients until his passion to teach and rejoin Johnson & Wales University brought him to the Charlotte Campus.

While an adjunct instructor for two years, O'Hara catered locally, cooked privately and returned to the yachting industry and spent six months in Europe. Upon his return to the United States, he became a full-time instructor and has been teaching since 2008.


  • B.F.A., Communications, Kent State University
  • A.S., Culinary Arts, Johnson & Wales University North Miami

Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. William Jennings Bryan


  • CIL1320 Elements of a la Minute Cooking
  • CUL1410 Contemporary Cooking & Leadership Functions
  • CUL2810 Global a la Carte
  • CUL2710 Banquets and Catering
  • CUL1100 Introduction to Culinary Skills and Techniques

Professional Affiliations

American Culinary Federation - Member and Personal Certified Executive Chef designation


Honors And Awards

  • Multiple American Culinary Federation cooking competition medals highlighted by Gold medals and 1st place finishes in: The United States Culinary Cup and Taste of North Carolina

Q&A with James

At JWU, education is not confined to the four walls of the classroom. You’re not going to spend four years with your nose buried in a book, learning theories you may never get a chance to apply — you’re going to get out there and apply them, be it through internships, group projects, leadership opportunities, competitions and more.

What Is Your Favorite Teaching Moment?

My favorite teaching moment is not actually a teaching moment, but watching the result of years of teaching. Commencement is by far my favorite time and event at the university.

What Advice Do You Have For Incoming Freshmen?

Half of what you learn in college is not in the classroom. Take responsibility and initiative and come to class prepared and eager to learn.

What College Do You Teach In?

College of Food Innovation & Technology