“Iron Chef” Judy Joo ’97 to Give Keynote at Columbia Engineering Class Day

Judy Joo will address graduating Columbia Engineering students at their Class Day ceremony on May 14, 2018.
—Photo courtesy of Judy Joo

New York, NY—March 30, 2018—London-based restauranteur, food celebrity, and “Iron Chef” Judy Joo will address graduating Columbia Engineering students at their Class Day ceremony on May 14, 2018.

The owner of three popular restaurants in London and Hong Kong, Joo is one of just four chefs to hold the “Iron Chef” title in the U.K. and the second female globally. She also draws on her Korean-American culinary heritage as host of “Korean Food Made Simple” on the Cooking Channel and Food Network worldwide.

“I definitely attribute my relatively quick success in the culinary field to my strong education,” said Joo, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia Engineering in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. “Particular with running restaurants, you have to have a strong business sense, know operations, efficiency design, understand marketing, PR and also have the creativity to cook new, innovative dishes.”

After graduating from Columbia, Joo first worked at Goldman Sachs and then as a derivatives salesperson at Morgan Stanley before her lifelong passion for food and restaurants motivated her to switch careers and attend the French Culinary Institute in New York (aka The International Culinary Center) where she graduated as class valedictorian. Following a move to London, Joo rotated through some of the city’s top restaurants under a number of celebrated chefs. Her talents in the kitchen led to television work and her win on the UK version of Iron Chef.

Joo soon became a regular on the Food Network with turns as a resident judge on “The Next Iron Chef,” “Iron Chef America,” “Kitchen Inferno,” “Guy’s Grocery Games,” and her own show “Korean Food Made Simple” now in its third season with global distribution from China and Southeast Asia to Australia and the USA and Canada.   

In 2015, Joo opened her first restaurant in London’s Soho district. Jinjuu (Korean for “Pearl”) serves traditional modern Korean food and soju-based cocktails and has since opened in Hong Kong and at a second location in London.

“With her multi-faceted and remarkable achievements spanning cooking, media, business, and finance, Judy Joo is an inspiration to our students, exemplifying how passion and hard work lead to success,” said Mary C. Boyce, Dean of Engineering and Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor at Columbia. “Judy credits her education and early career for giving her the discipline and tenacity needed to achieve in a highly competitive arena. Her journey from trader to ‘Iron Chef’ illustrates our belief that, more and more, an engineering degree provides a foundation that prepares students to be creative leaders in whatever field they choose to enter.”

Aakanxit Khullar, president of the Columbia Engineering Class of 2018, also expressed enthusiasm for this year’s speaker. “We’re really excited!” said Khullar. “Ms. Joo is a characteristic example of how an engineering degree at Columbia can enable a variety of professional interests. Her illustrious career as a chef and television personality will encourage SEAS graduates to extend their boundaries, dream big, and follow their passions both in and beyond typical engineering roles."

An advocate for food education, Joo founded “Harvest Time in Harlem,” Slow Food USA’s first inner city school project. She is considered the foremost expert on Korean cooking in the West and a pioneer in spreading appreciation for Korean cuisine around the world. She is also the author of “Korean Food Made Simple,” based on her show of the same name, and pens a monthly column for OK! Magazine profiling celebrity chefs from around the USA.

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