Monthly Industry Insights

Hear from industry leaders their guilty pleasures, the oddest thing in their refrigerator, their inspirations and take on new trends. We've asked all of questions and have the answers for you here.

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October's Featured Interview: James McGuinness, Dean of Culinary Arts, Keiser University and Inaugural Rapid Fire Challenge Champion

Chef James McGuinness is the Dean of Culinary Arts at Keiser University in Florida and most recently was crowned champion of the inaugural Rapid Fire Cooking Challenge at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show - creating winning dishes from a box of mystery ingredients.

What made you want to become a chef?
My mother was a terrible cook and I decided I might have better luck than she did in the kitchen.

What was your favorite class in culinary school?
I didn't have one, but I enjoyed the pastry shop during my apprenticeship.

What is the newest trend you see emerging?
I'm not really interested in trends. I like to focus on food that's well prepared and flavorful.

What’s the strangest thing we would find in your refrigerator?
A lack of food? I like to shop for dinner so there isn't much in there. Cheese, grapes, water, salami, but I don't keep much on hand.

If you could eat anywhere in the world, where would that be?
There's a little Tapas place in Barcelona I love. I could sit for hours eating Cod Fritters, Berberechos, Razor clams and I'd wash it all down with Sidhra.

Is there one comfort food that you're secretly obsessed with having at home?
No, not really. I like chicken and rice served with chili garlic. Just the thighs though, no legs.

Which talent would you most like to have that you don't possess?

To read minds. That's a talent, isn't it?

What’s your favorite meal to cook for friends?

I love doing braised beef tongue or pork shoulder roasted in banana leaf, served on corn tortilla with Tomatillo salsa and maybe a little queso fresco.A little taco bar for everyone to graze on. I like that.

Who was your mentor as you were becoming a chef?
I've never had the pleasure of meeting him, but Jacques Pepin was and remains an inspiration to me. He's the ultimate technician/professional.

If you could cook for and dine with anyone, who would that be?
I'd love to sit with my kids by the pool grilling and watching the sunset. If Christopher Walken stopped by with Eva Mendes they would be a welcome addition to the party.

More about Chef James McGuinness: 

Chef McGuinness has held the position of Dean of Culinary Arts at Keiser University since 2010 and currently oversees the hiring and training of all Culinary Faculty. Previous to this position he was a Culinary Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Chicago for 15 years. He has also taught at Saint Augustine College. Chef McGuinness began his career as an ACF Culinary Apprentice at the Westin Hotel Chicago and was a Sous Chef at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. He is an American Culinary Federation Certified Culinary Educator.


September Insights - Norman Van Aken, NORMAN'S
August Insights - Richard Pink, Pink's Hot Dogs
July Insights - Keith Breedlove, Culinerdy Cruzer
June Chef Insights - Rob Valencia, Great Performances
May Chef Insights - Marc Murphy, Benchmarc Restaurants
April Chef Insights - Megan Johnson, Casellula
March Chef Insights - Sara Moulton, Chef, Cookbook Author, TV Personality

February Chef Insights - Barret Beyer, Hell's Kitchen
January Chef Insights - Anton Testino, Mulberry Street Cafe
November Chef Insights - David Binkle, Los Angeles Unified School District
October Chef Insights - Alan Ogard, Lexington Hotel
September Chef Insights - Barbie Marshall, The Farming Chef
August Chef Insights - Cal DeMercurio, Corporate Executive Chef, Black Bear Diner
July Chef Insights - Johannes Bernau, Executive Chef, Who Song & Larry's
June Chef Insights - Ryan Vargas, Chef de Cuisine at Emeril's Tchoup Chop