Celebrity Chef Jet Tila Showcases Asian Cuisine at Colgate


Celebrity chef Jet Tila gave a cooking lesson to a group of Colgate students. 

Celebrity chef Jet Tila visited Colgate University, where he taught a cooking class to students, spent time in Frank Dining Hall and held a book signing at the Colgate Bookstore Wednesday, February 28. 

Tila has guest-starred on the Food Network’s Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef America and, more recently, Guy’s Grocery Games. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and the California Sushi Academy, Tila primarily specializes in Thai and Chinese cuisine while utilizing a framework of classical French technique. 

Tila immersed 13 Colgate students in the world of Asian cuisine at his cooking class held at Frank Dining Hall. Tila opened the class with a brief introduction about his background and culinary experience, and discussed his enthusiasm about inspiring others to cook and create new dishes. He then instructed and aided students in making their own spring rolls. 

First-year Allegra Knox, who attended the cooking class, expressed her excitement at being able to listen to and learn from Tila.

“[Tila] explained to us that the one thing that has remained constant in his life is his passion to teach. No matter which profession he’s found himself in, he has always enjoyed teaching others,” Knox said. “In his class, he made sure we all understood each step before moving on. His judging experience showed when he went around the room and rated each person’s spring roll.”

Knox, who counted herself as a fan of Tila’s from watching him on various cooking shows, stated that being able to interact with him was her favorite part of the cooking class.

“To have the opportunity to joke around together, and find out first-hand some of his behind-the-scenes Food Network stories, was an amazing experience,” Knox said.

First-year Jinui Thomas, also present at Tila’s cooking class, believed that through her experience with trying out new cuisines she was able to learn more about different cultures.

“Food is an integral aspect of the way groups socialize, and cooking is a great example of that,” Thomas said. “Cooking together can truly be a collaborative experience as you work together to create something delicious that everyone enjoys.”  

Tila’s cooking showcases his heritage and family history. His book, 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die: Discover a New World of Flavors in Authentic Recipes, is a culmination of his years worth of culinary knowledge and of his Thai and Chinese familial roots. At his book signing at the Colgate Bookstore, attendees were encouraged to sample Vietnamese crystal shrimp spring rolls as Tila signed copies of his book for those in line. While spending time answering audience questions, Tila touched upon his inspiration for his career.

“My family was my inspiration to cook. My grandmother was my first cooking instructor, and really sparked my initial interest,” Tila said. “My family’s grocery store was the only Asian grocery store in L.A., so we had all the famous chefs in California come to us. [That] opened the door for me to go back and work for them after culinary school. My family’s history has influenced every piece of my career, and I owe them everything.”

Through food, Tila believes he is able to engage with new audiences and promote the fundamentally important qualities cooking reflects.

“Cooking makes you more of a socially responsive person. Cooking gives you skill. Cooking helps you bond,” Tila said. “I’d like to see younger generations, specifically college students, get out into the world with a good understanding of how to cook food.”

Contact Celine Turkyilmaz at [email protected]