From Costa Rica to culinary school to southwest Missouri, Jorge Cespedes has roamed the globe tasting, developing, sharing and learning about good food. Now he’s bringing his expertise to the page at 417 Magazine as our new Food Editor.
You’ll see Jorge’s culinary musings, food reviews and dining roundups from now on in the magazine’s Taste section as he curates and develops our dining content. But the road that lead him here curved across the world. He grew up in Costa Rica before attending culinary school at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.
“It’s a town with such good food, and I think it’s mostly due to the school having so much talent there,” he says. Students started working in restaurants then came up with their own concepts. Cespedes says. “I worked for some chefs in restaurants, and it was good [that I did] because I realized that I didn’t want to be a restaurant chef. I loved food, but I didn’t love making it. I loved the creation part of it—the creative process, coming up with a recipe or an idea. But making it every day is not fun.”
At Johnson and Wales, Cespedes worked for the university in their special events department, helping them with the VIP chefs that would come in. “It was cool because I met a lot of important people,” he says. During that time, he was contacted by Springfield-based Food IQ, owned by Marlin Network, a culinary marketing company. “All of a sudden, I found myself in the marketing side and the consulting side of food, and it was eye-opening,” he says. “It was a whole world that I didn’t know existed. I immediately started helping fast-food chains develop their menus, and my job was more about the inspirational side of things. Most of the time, I would suggest we take a trip to get inspired. We would go to New York City or Atlanta, or Chicago or Dallas, and we would eat our way through the city, which was amazing.”
In that role, Cespedes served as corporate chef at events for brands like Bush’s Beans and Coca-Cola. He would do demo recipes on stage and talk about new food ideas. “We worked so much with Coca-Cola that for two years I moved to Atlanta, just because I was in Coca-Cola headquarters every week,” he says. “It was awesome—Atlanta is one of the best food cities in the country.”
But after a while, traveling 90% of the time grew tiring, so he moved into a more creative role as culinary creative director for The Alchemedia Project and Marlin Network, focusing on content creation. He directs photoshoots and video shoots, creates videos for clients and helps with their campaigns. Still in his role at Marlin Network, Cespedes’s passion for travel and understanding food cultures is also being shared with 417 readers as he digs into Springfield’s own food community.