Custom Culinary - Be true to the food
Jim Harvey

YEARS IN FOODSERVICE INDUSTRY:

35+

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO BECOME A CHEF?

A film shown to my 6th grade class showcased the 14,000-acre, 1,500-student Milton Hershey School for boys (now 1,700 boys and girls) in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I convinced my grandparents to let me enroll at the age of 12 and, because of the school’s orchards, cooking and meat processing, I got an understanding of the origin of foods that most people never experience in a lifetime.

Drafted after graduating from the CIA, I spent six and a half years in the Air National Guard, all of them as a security specialist. I ran a successful catering business out of the officers’ dining room, which was only in use by the servicemen one weekend a month. My C.O. told me that as long as I prepared the food for his parties, I could do whatever I wanted with the facility the rest of the time.

Then a call came to return to Milton Hershey to set up a culinary program, part of the school’s drive to become a nationally known vo-tech prep academy. I spent the next few years developing and teaching a culinary arts curriculum, as well as working with house parents in the residences to help them better feed the students. Eventually, I began running the school’s 128-employee commissary as the Director of Food and Supply Services. Somehow, I also found time to consult for Hershey Foods, and to open a fine-dining restaurant—Harvey’s on Chocolate—in the town of Hershey.

WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?

Be honest. This is particularly important in any situation where you’re working with customers, no matter what product or service you’re selling. Otherwise, you have no credibility.

MEMBERSHIPS:

American Culinary Federation, Research Chefs Association

RECOGNITION:

Honor Graduate, Culinary Institute America (1972), Rotary International Ambassador Finland