One Texas State staff member has been recognized for serving up more than typical cafeteria food.
Campus executive chef Charlie Peralez was recently named Chartwells Regional Chef of the Year, an award sought after by cooks at universities ranging from the University of Miami to Louisiana State University.
“We were all very excited and happy for Charlie once the news broke out that the award had gone to him,” said Abel Valencia, marketing director for Chartwells at Texas State. “We knew we were competing against a lot of different schools and winning this title proves how efficient our food program is.”
Peralez’s way of thinking helped him to win the Chartwells award and encouraged the rest of his staff to produce new entrees for the students to try, such as the themed meals and cuisines from regions around the world.
“The students here on campus are very adventurous and up for anything when it comes to what will be served on the entree menu, which is great,” Peralez said. “It is because of them that the rest of the staff and I are able to bring different things to the table.”
Peralez started at the university four years ago and is the third generation of his family to work in the culinary field.
“My parents, uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents all worked in the campus food service industry,” said Peralez. “My father started working at Texas State when he was in his teens and stopped when he passed away a few years ago. He was a great man that loved his job and that was one of the things that attracted me here.”
Peralez’s grandmother also played a role in encouraging him to start cooking. As a young child, he would help her in the kitchen by doing small tasks such as getting things out of the fridge, grabbing pots and pans and cleaning up after dinner. As he got older, he performed more advanced tasks that allowed him to improve his cooking skills and abilities.
Several years later, Peralez attended the Texas Culinary Academy in the Le Cordon Bleu program and graduated magna cum laude.
“I really appreciate the time I spent studying at the academy,” Peralez said. “It was really great to have the opportunity to study under some amazing chefs and I was able to make life-long friends with my classmates, who I still learn from to this day.”
Peralez has only been at Texas State for a short period of time, but he can already see how the university is rapidly changing.
“The growth that this university has had over these past few years has been very inspiring,” Peralez said. “This whole campus is committed to constantly improving and because I represent Chartwells and Texas State, I feel our food service needs to strive to be exceptional like the educational and athletic programs here on campus.”