Baran-Unland: Retired JJC chef Keith Vonhoff said he had you as a student at JJC. What led you to pursue culinary there? What years were you at JJC?
Wilson: Chef Vonhoff was one of my instructors at JJC and he was my second year demo class instructor. He was also my kitchen instructor at the Renaissance Center in Joliet.
I remember two boys in the kitchen were playing with knives and one cut a tendon on his hand, he was dismissed from the program.
The reason I wanted to go to JJC is because that’s the school where my brother Will Wilson attended. I liked the campus, the bridge, the cafeteria, and at the time, the instructors to grace that Campus were incredible.
Some remained from the time my brother went there, and in essence they stepped up a level or two by the time I arrived. I attended from 1984 to 1986.
Baran-Unland: How did JJC develop your skills?
Wilson: Clearly I learned the basics at JJC. From soups and sauces, we proceeded to cuts of meat, cost and portion control, accounting, nutrition, psychology, baking, pastry: every step of the basics a chef would need to know to lead up to fine dining.
Baran-Unland: What led you to The Cordon Bleu, and why did you focus on nutrition? When did you graduate?
Wilson: The Cordon Bleu was the format of literature and instruction that we received at JJC during that time. I graduated in 1986 with honors. During my college years I received the Sugar Foods Scholarship, and also The Classical 100 Scholarship.