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Jerry Chollet Joins Hospitality Wall of Fame
May 07, 2013
Known for his hard work, determination, skill and attention to detail, Jerry Chollet has earned the respect of his peers and employers during his 40 years in the hospitality industry.
On May 9, Chollet will be inducted into the St. Louis Community College’s Hospitality Studies Wall of Fame, which is located on the Forest Park campus.
“Forty-plus years in the hospitality industry has given me a clear understanding of what it takes to succeed,” he said. A willingness to take responsibility plus reliability have also been a key, he believes.
“I do believe that hard work with true dedication reaps great benefits over one's life," Chollet said. "Do your best and you'll be rewarded with respect from your peers. Teach what you know and your skills will be passed on to those seeking knowledge. That is all one needs, I feel, to measure success.”
Chollet earned an associate degree in hotel/restaurant management from STLCC in 1978, then attending Washington University on a scholarship. From 1974 to 1981, he worked as a prep cook, broiler and sauté cook, and roundsman at the Whittemore House, which is Washington University’s faculty conference center.
Starting out as a dishwasher, Chollet has been involved in all areas of food service. He currently serves as executive chef of the St. Louis Zoo, where he is in charge of Mane Event Catering and also chef/manager of the Painted Giraffe Cafe.
At the zoo since June 1998, Chollet oversees annual catering sales of more than $2 million, with events ranging in size up to 15,000 guests. He’s responsible for formal weddings, rehearsal dinners, company picnics, corporate events, class reunions and numerous functions. He serves the gamut from elegant multi-course dinners to simple light luncheons.
Chollet also is responsible for the day-to-day operations at the Painted Giraffe Café, which includes menu planning, purchasing, production, inventory, food and labor cost control.
“I have had the pleasure to work with very strong people who have helped me attain valuable knowledge that I have carried with me,” he said.
Chollet worked as a chef instructor in the Jobs Partnership Center of St. Louis County, operated by STLCC, from 1990 to 1998. Four years prior to that, he was an executive sous chef at Westwood Country Club, controlling the back house operations under Chef John Bogaski, who also earned an associate degree from STLCC.
From 1981 to 1986, he was a chef tournant at the St. Louis Club, an experience that has shaped his life ever since.
“It was an absolute pleasure working alongside the team of talented culinarians assembled in that kitchen," he said. "It was the most informational and productive experience regarding food in my life."
Chollet is a member of the Chefs de Cuisine St. Louis Chapter, and has a current vocational education Missouri State Culinary Arts Teaching Certificate.
In his spare time, Chollet enjoys golf, fishing, cycling, skiing, poker and travel. He also likes to support Cardinals baseball and Blues hockey.
Chollet lives in Webster Groves. He has been married to Patricia, a pharmacist, for 32 years. Their son Todd is a physical therapist and daughter Elaine is general manager of Lush Cosmetics in the St. Louis Galleria, and also a company trainer.