Alumni - John Barone

John Barone


Class of: 2003
Degree Program: Culinary Arts

What factors led you to decide to attend Hudson County Community College?

After researching many culinary schools, I chose HCCC because the class sizes were small, there was a lot of hands-on training and one-on-one attention from our instructors.

 

What is your favorite memory of the College, in or out of the classroom?

I enjoyed learning about international foods. To open a book and escape to a different part of the world and learn about the different flavors was amazing to me. It definitely sparked my interest to travel.

 

How did you become interested in Culinary Arts?

I have always had a passion for cooking. At an early age, I have many memories of being in the kitchen watching my mom prepare dinner. I always loved to watch the process from chopping to mixing to cooking to presenting the final dish.

 

How did your time at HCCC prepare you for your career/ life now?

My culinary education at HCCC gave me the confidence to walk into a formal kitchen knowing certain important fundamental skills to get me started.

I now live in Northern California as a private chef. My days can be pretty busy depending on if my client is entertaining for the evening or if they will just have a quiet family dinner. Most days start with creating a menu based on any dietary restric­tions and seasonality of ingredients. The morning usually consists of shopping at markets for ingredi­ents for the menu. I then head to my clients home.

When I arrive I will talk with the estate man­ager who will fill me in if there have been any last minute changes to the schedule of my client. I will then unload all groceries and begin my prepara­tion. If there is a larger event occurring on that day, I will have help from the other staff of the home to set up. Otherwise I will do this myself.

When it is time for my client to eat, I present them with the first course and allow them to eat while I go back to the kitchen to finish the second course. After they have finished, I present them with the second course. The same procedure fol­lows with each of the following courses. Once fin­ished, I will clean up and organize my ideas and menu for the following day.

 

What has been the most memorable project/ case you have worked on?

It’s really hard to pick one. I am lucky to have had so many wonderful experiences, each special and unique. If I had to choose, I would pick one of my most recent adventures. In February of this year (2018), I was recruited to cook for the U.S. ski team in Pyeongchang, South Korea at the Winter Olympic Games! Cooking for competitive athletes is so rewarding because you're supporting their physical performance, and in this instance it was for Team USA!

 

Who are your biggest inspirations that have impacted your work in some way?

One of my mentors and inspirations is Thomas Keller. I worked under him while my time spent at The French Laundry in Napa, CA.

Chef Keller really instilled in me a high respect for ingredients being prepared. I learned how to source and use ingredients that are in season and local. I gained a “sense of urgency” and “attention to detail” which still remain with me today in and out of the kitchen.

I am very thankful to have had the opportu­nity to set foot in some of the kitchens of the best restaurants in the world. Working under each chef really taught me valuable lessons.

 

What advice would you give to recent HCCC graduates?

Keep an open mind and soak up as much knowledge as you can from all the experiences you have. There is no one right way to do a certain task, but by keeping an open mind, you will be able to form a culinary rolodex to pull from as you advance in your culinary career and form your own style of cooking.

Always have respect. There are many different roles in a restaurant. A pot washer does not have the prestige of being the executive chef, but they are both equally important. Without one, the op­eration does not run efficiently and smoothly.

Finally, grow and adapt with the world. As we learn more about farming practices and our impact on the environment, it is extremely important to be an educated consumer and know exactly how and where our food is coming from.

 

 

What advice do you have for those students who are just starting their college careers?

Keep an open mind and learn and do things that are not in your comfort zone. Similar to the advice to the Culinary graduates, I think that advice can be used in all aspects of your life. Also, it is most important to pursue a career that you have a passion for, NOT based on how much money you could make. To find your purpose is extremely im­portant in life.

One of my favorite quotes is from Confucius: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”