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Alum Johnny Bullard Has Passion
For Cooking and Passion for Mercer


4/11/10


West Windsor, N.J. - When MCCC alumnus Ketlinado (Johnny) Bullard '10 (A.A.S, Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management- HRIM) arrived in New Jersey in 2008 from Nassau, Bahamas, he had a plan. Having worked in the hospitality industry since the age of 18, he was ready to get serious about cooking and the hotel business. The now 26-year-old decided it was time to pursue formal training in a college setting.

"Cooking is one thing, but knowing the theory behind it and the right methods makes a difference. It gives you more confidence and a sense of pride," Bullard says. "People ask questions about why you do things the way you do. When you have an education, you can give an educated answer."

Graduating with honors from MCCC's HRIM program in May, 2010, Bullard took advantage of every learning opportunity available during his time at Mercer. He served a year-long term as president of the Hospitality Club just one semester into his studies, leading a group of dedicated HRIM volunteers who provided food service for college gatherings, catered off-campus charitable events, and baked hundreds of pies for sale at Thanksgiving. He also assisted noncredit instructors at the Culinary Center with preparation and teaching for a host of community classes.

According to Bullard, he got just the foundation he needed at Mercer. "The program is very good. I always recommend it. I say, 'Get started at Mercer, because it's a great start.'" He notes that his professors "love what they do. You must love what you do. Otherwise you are wasting your time and your clients' time."

Ketlinado (Johnny) Bullard '10

Clearly, Bullard possesses that same kind of passion for the culinary field. These days, he is still on campus, preparing enticing menu items and providing top service at the MCCC cafeteria. Hired as a sous chef last year, Bullard is doing a great job handling all serving stations in the cafeteria and working banquets at the MCCC Conference Center, according to Chef Joe Chell. Twice Bullard has stepped in temporarily to serve as assistant manager in the cafeteria, giving him practical, hands-on experience in the business end of the field, including menu preparation and food and supply ordering under the direction of Chell and Manager Jackie Dunn.

"Johnny is very reliable, always on time. I see him growing each week, taking on more and more. I think he will be very successful," Chell said.

Bullard typically starts his work days at 6:30 a.m. and finishes up in the early to mid-afternoon with the preparation of packaged meals for on-the-go evening students. He says he is delighted that customer numbers have gone up more than 20 percent in the past year.

"We welcome customer feedback, even if it's criticism," Bullard says. "That's the way we will improve our service and get to know what customers want."

Newer menu offerings have proven extremely popular, including Wednesday's Mongolian Grill, where customers select beef, chicken or shrimp and then add their own fixings, Buffalo chicken, personalized pizzas, panini and a wing bar. The cafeteria is also emphasizing additional healthy and vegetarian options. "We strive to serve what our customers are looking for," Bullard says.

According to Bullard, he is not finished with his formal education. Like one of his former professors, Frank Benowitz, he plans to complete the Fairleigh Dickinson bachelor's degree program in Hospitality Management offered on the Mercer campus.

Eventually, Bullard would like to open his own restaurant, for "those who have been or dream of going to the Caribbean," he says. The restaurant will feature the tastes he was raised on -- traditional island cuisine featuring seafood, coconut, and tropical fruits like pineapple and mango.


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