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Celebrity Chef Jet Takes Off In Westchester

Celebrity Chef Jet Tila, right, with assistant at Purchase College.
Celebrity Chef Jet Tila, right, with assistant at Purchase College. Photo Credit: Ambar Lopez

PURCHASE, N.Y. -- Celebrity Chef Jet Tila whipped up wok-loads of Asian-fusion specialties for Purchase College students Friday and urged them to “eat the world!”

Best known for appearing as a judge on cooking competition shows such Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen and for setting the world record for cooking the largest stir fry, Tila noted that most students “want fries and they want chicken strips.”

But, he said, as he offered up servings of vegan tofu stir fry, Mongolian beef and miso sweet potatoes at the Hub student cafeteria: “I think we can all strive to eat clean and organic and healthy.”

Purchase freshman Nina Rodriguez agreed. “So delicious!” she said as she dug into her tofu. “It’s really good. A good change.”

Tila has partnered with Compass Group, parent organization of Chartwells, the food service provider at Purchase, to open Modern Asian Kitchen, a casual Pan-Asian fast food chain. He has launched several other restaurants and collaborates with Schwan’s meal home-delivery service.

“Most Asian food is pre-fried nuggets with very sweet sauces and lots of MSG-laden instant sauces,” Tila said, motioning toward a wok full of vegetables. “You can see that all our stuff is cooked fresh. There’s always a vegan and there’s always a gluten free option.”

The 41-year-old American-born chef, of Chinese and Thai ancestry, said he did not set out to be a celebrity chef. “My family has been cooking for three generations,” he said. “I am still cooking what my grandma cooked.”

Ambar I. Lopez is a member of Purchase College’s Community Reporting team.

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