Jonathan Deutsch graduated with his PhD in Food Studies in 2004. Read on to learn more about Jonathan's professional background, experience in the PhD program, and the "good food" product development and culinary innovation lab he runs at Drexel University.
What was your professional background before coming to NYU?
I worked as a chef in a variety of settings – hotels, restaurants, catering – and then in product development before moving into culinary education.
What inspired you to pursue your PhD and research interests?
When finishing my bachelor's in hospitality management at Drexel, my professor, Chef Francis McFadden, gave me the opportunity to help him as a teaching assistant. I caught the teaching bug and realized I'd love to follow in his footsteps. My dean at the time, Michael Adams, encouraged me to get my PhD.
What was the most influential part of your experience in the PhD program?
While the classes were great, there is no substitute for learning alongside phenomenal faculty like professors Marion Nestle, Amy Bentley, and Krishnendu Ray in a close environment. I built relationships with the faculty that didn't end with my graduation.
Can you tell me about the work you’re doing now?
I am a professor in the Department of Food and Hospitality Management and courtesy faculty in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at Drexel. Here I founded and run the Drexel Food Lab, a "good food" product development and culinary innovation lab. The lab works with students and colleagues to apply the same techniques the food industry uses to projects that make for a more sustainable, health-promoting, or accessible food system.
What would you consider to be the greatest accomplishment(s) of your career so far?
My greatest accomplishment is seeing our students successfully launch their food products. See, for example, "Meet the Startup Founders Fighting Food Waste, One Avocado at a Time" or "How ‘Upcycling’ Discarded Ingredients into Food is Gaining Momentum."
Do you have any advice for folks interested in a similar career path?
I think the key to my career has been developing a mix of hands-on practical skills as a chef and food product developer along with the critical skills I developed doing my PhD in Food Studies. I think we need both.