At JWU’s College of Culinary Arts, working with a chef classically trained in French cuisine is called “Tuesday.” The chef in question? Tom Condron '88 recently returned to campus to craft a lavish feast for the Epicurean Scholarship Society, a membership-based group that supports culinary scholarships at the university. Several times a year, the Society brings distinguished chefs — many of them alumni — to campus to host unforgettable culinary events that double as fundraisers.
Condron worked alongside a team of culinary students to execute a 5-course extravaganza that included such delicacies as butter-poached Maine lobster with hearts of palm; lamb loin with smoked aubergine and goat milk yogurt; and a show-stopping final course titled “the French Garden,” which consisted of artisan cheeses and pickled vegetables on a bed of edible soil.
British-born and French-trained, Condron has worked for no less than 8 Michelin-starred chefs in his career, including the late Jean Louis Palladin, whose fearless and exacting tutelage in the kitchen is legendary. For more than a decade, Condron has made Charlotte his base of operations, and he currently oversees the Liberty, a gastropub, and a sister bistro, Lumiere.
Respect the chef, ask your team for help when needed, and never be too proud.”
For students, the opportunity to learn and collaborate with a chef of Condron’s caliber and training was truly unique — and something they will not soon forget.
TRAVIS HARMON ’13, ’15 MBA, chef and culinary events manager: “Working with a classically trained French chef really showed the students — and myself — how concise, if not almost militaristic, that side of cooking can be. Respect the chef, ask your team for help when needed, and never be too proud. Admit your mistake and shortcomings and learn from them.
“Learning to work as a brigade is an invaluable experience that every chef needs as part of their career, and Chef Condron was able to provide that environment for so many of our students.”
STEVEN KO (sophomore, Taiwan): “If I had to give one takeaway, it would be to step out of your comfort zone — constantly.
“After Chef Delle Donne requested my help, I was hesitant at first because it meant that I would have to work with people I didn’t know at an event that I didn’t know much about. It seemed like a massive storm had come knocking at my door. I took a gulp and opened that door. It was then that I realized that I need to constantly step out of my comfort zone in order to improve and become someone like Chef Condron. Throughout the event, I forced myself to try new things and fit accordingly to allow the day to go by successfully — it was truly breathtaking. And I’m glad I took that step and opened the door.”
If I had one takeaway, it would be to step out of your comfort zone — constantly.”
PAITON LUIS (First Year): “The biggest takeaway I took from working with Chef Condron was the cooking and plating techniques. Everything that he cooked and plated had a purpose. I also did not realize how many of the ingredients that were used for each dish could be prepared in advance. I thought there was going to be a lot of plating going on while the dinner was taking place. Overall it was an amazing experience to work with Chef Condron and I would gladly do it again.”
JAKE RITTEREISER (First Year): “Using tapioca maltodextrin to turn lamb fat into what looked like snow is something I will never forget.”
JULIET FAAS (Early Enrollment Program): “I worked in the front of the house during this event, so I was involved in setting up the dining room, then serving the courses to the guests.
“One part of the event I will never forget was during the dinner service. We did team-style service, where each server would be assigned to serve one particular guest at each table. I loved how all of us servers would place the course in front of the guest at the same time, which would be initiated by the captain nodding and making eye contact. We all looked so professional and on point. That had to be one of my favorite moments during the night.”