By Dani Moritz-Long
Freshly picked fruit, frozen treats, charred hamburgers hot off the grill — summertime brings with it an array of delectable culinary delights. Summer also happens to play host to a day celebrating the people behind our favorite summer treats as each year July 25th is National Culinarian’s Day — a day to celebrate the chefs and cooks who make our taste buds sing not only during the summer months, but all year round.
While we may be a day late, we wanted to celebrate this National Culinarian’s Day with a tribute to one of Valencia’s favorite chefs, Pierre Pilloud, professor, culinary management. So Pierre, (chef) hats off to you!
Anyone who knows the white-haired chef with a contagious grin would agree that Chef Pierre makes every day a real treat. He’s a fun-loving chef with a passion for cooking and a flair for inspiring the best out of his students.
Born in Switzerland, Pierre has traveled the world in pursuit of one culinary adventure after another since commencing a life-long love affair with food and travel when he shifted gears from alpine skier to hotel manager and, ultimately, to chef in the 1960s.
His travels led him to all corners of the globe — from the northern tip of Africa to the south of France and everywhere in between. Along the way, he enjoyed cultural delicacies from around the world as he shared his passion for the culinary arts with the lucky receivers of his delicious plates.
But the life of a chef (and the long hours that come with it) is tiring, even for someone as energetic as Chef Pierre. So, when Pierre — who had owned several restaurants and cooked his away around the world — needed a change of pace, throwing his apron and chef’s hat in simply wasn’t an option. Instead, he turned to teaching and quickly found it to be his newest passion.
His teaching endeavors started with Southeastern Academy and then ITT Tech, where he taught hospitality for five years, and, in 1996, he found himself right here at Valencia where’s has been for the past 20 years.
Although he’s now famous for his work in the kitchen, he actually started as a curriculum writer for the newly formed Hospitality Institute before shifting gears to develop the College’s now-widely-recognized restaurant management program.
“Chef Pierre is an award-winning chef who has put together an award-winning team of full- and part-time chefs,” said Terry Allcorn, dean, business and hospitality. “Their hard work has produced the largest culinary program in the state, including the only baking and pastry program of any community college in the state. It is a privilege to work with him.”
Throughout his tenure with Valencia, Pierre has not only spearheaded program development from square one, but he’s also earned prestigious certifications and awards, presented as a guest chef at Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival and other esteemed events, and helped countless student chefs earn internships and job placements all around the country and world.
While it’s a far cry from the globe-trotting days of his past, Pierre is clearly happy here at Valencia. When asked about what he loves best about the College, his answer was simple. “Everything.”
“From the administration down to the janitors, maintenance employees, groundskeepers and security personnel,” he added, “and, of course, all the chefs and adjuncts helping us to be the largest culinary program in the state of Florida. Oh! And I cannot forget, Marsha Clarke-Ferguson, our office administrator.”
To read more about this lively chef — who in his free time is busy traveling the world, tending to his yard, practicing yoga, biking and cooking for his wife (so much for taking it easy!) — you can read his article in Vitae, in which he shares more details on his incredible journey called life.
Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.