Jonathan Kraft, head chef at Marletto’s Marketplace and the newest edition to the culinary team, has been cooking since he was 5 years old.
“I made fried bologna and worked my way up,” Kraft said. “Roasting chickens, grilling steak at 8, 9, 10…”
After high school, Kraft took his cooking ability to New York’s Culinary Institute of America in 1984. It was there he was able to hone his skills to work at the dining service in Harvard Business School in Boston, one of the finest eateries in Pittsburgh, resorts in Florida and the Ritz Carlton in New York.
“I cooked for five or six years out of culinary school before I became a sous chef,” Kraft said. “It’s not an easy path, but it can be very rewarding. When you serve a nice party and people love it, it’s kind of instant gratification. You know when your food is good.”
While cooking at the Harvard Business School, Kraft said he would have international students come to the kitchen once a week to cook specialties from their native countries. Because of that experience, he said he is no stranger to international cuisine.
Webster Dean of Students Ted Hoef said he believes it is the university’s international flair that makes Kraft fit in at Webster.
“I just like authentic food, how they do it in their country,” Kraft said.
Kraft’s international experience has already made an impact on the food at Marletto’s. Sophomore public relations major Julia Kalkbrenner said she has “certainly noticed a difference in the variety of the food here.”
“Last year was good,” Kalkbrenner said, “but this year definitely has more international options.”
Hoef said the university wants dining services to be “as responsive as it can be” and will maintain an ongoing dialogue with students to do so.
After working in kitchens across the country, Kraft said he is excited to be back in his hometown.
Kraft said he has “been exposed to pretty much everything” in global cuisines from Irish to African, but his favorite thing to cook has stayed the same. After a long day of preparing meals for hundreds of people, he looks forward to one thing.
“Dinner for myself,” Kraft said.