Hari Pulapaka

Cress Restaurant, Deland, FL

Hari Pulapaka is the Executive Chef and Co-Owner of the highly acclaimed Cress Restaurant in DeLand, FL. He is also a full-time tenured Associative Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Stetson University. Hari received a classical culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, trained at Canoe in Toronto, and opened Cress in 2008 with his wife, Dr. Jenneffer Pulapaka. Cress was rated the #1 restaurant in the Greater Orlando area by ZAGAT in 2013. Hari is a four-time semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef South and a two-time nominee for Food & Wine Magazine’s The People’s Best New Chef. Hari attended the first official James Beard Foundation's Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change in Louisville, KY, and now serves on the advisory board of the Chef Action Network (CAN). He is also a 2013 participant on the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force. Cress successfully hosted a “Lesser Florida Fish Dinner” and continues to champion sustainability issues in Central Florida including maintaining an active food waste program. Hari is also a Certified Executive Chef of The American Culinary Federation. As a mathematician, Hari received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from The University of Florida in 1995, an M.S. in Mathematics from George Mason University, and a B.Sc. in Mathematics from St. Xavier’s College at the University of Mumbai. 

What is your dream destination for culinary travel?
North Africa

What is your earliest food memory?
In my home kitchen in Mumbai, India

Who was your most influential mentor?
My mother and all my teachers

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