Peruvian chef spices up campus dining

Peruvian specialties were on the menu Monday afternoon in the Lunda Room at the Alumni Memorial Union, with Sodexo Campus Services welcoming chef Juan Carlos Barzola to Marquette.

Barzola came to campus as part of Sodexo’s Global Chef Program, which brought a Brazilian chef, Adriana Yunes Caporossi, to Marquette last year.

The Global Chef Program was introduced by Sodexo in 2003 to bring international cuisine and cooking techniques to universities and institutions worldwide, according to Sodexo’s Web site.

Barzola, who was born in Peru, came to the U.S. when he was 17 and has been in the culinary industry for 15 years.

Before discovering the culinary industry, Barzola said he wanted to become a computer engineer. After a sudden change of mind, he began attending culinary school and eventually earned his degree in hotel management from Le Cordon Bleu Peru.

“I think it’s a genetic thing,” Barzola said. “My grandmother worked as pastry chef in New York and my uncle was also a cook. I took to cooking easily.”

Barzola said he was lucky to be from Peru, where the cuisine has a variety of influences, including Italian, ancient Incan, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese.

According to Barzola, the combination of flavors and the rich soil and access to fresh crops is what makes Peruvian cuisine distinct and increasingly popular.

Tallarin Saltado Criollo, a stir-fry dish with beef, chicken and shrimp served with vegetables over spaghetti, was one of the authentic specialties Barzola prepared for Monday’s showcase.

“It takes a great passion to cook,” Barzola said. “It involves many hours, and I do my best to be creative in preparing an appetizing dish.”

This is Barzola’s second tour with the Global Chef Program. Previously, he traveled to New Orleans, eight different universities in Texas and Creighton University in Nebraska to feature his culinary creations.

Barzola and Sodexo also have plans for the chef to visit 40 countries during a five-year span to introduce Peruvian fare to others.

“At each culinary meeting I always have fun,” Barzola said. “Besides that, I’m always getting better, and I’m happy I have the opportunity to continue offering Peruvian food.”

Marquette students also enjoyed the opportunity to sample the unique cuisine.

“I’ve never had Peruvian food before, but it was well worth it,” said Pat Paulino, a sophomore in the College of Engineering.

Alan Hay, also a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said trying Peruvian cuisine allowed him to be a little more adventurous than normal, calling Barzola’s salad “phenomenal.”

Peruvian inspired food was also available at NYC Subs and Fresh Greens at the AMU. Today, Barzola will be at Cobeen Hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., where he will feature dishes like Ceviche Vegetariano, a vegetable medley spiced with citrus, cilantro and ginger.