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Hari Pulapaka, Ph.D., C.E.C.
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Hari Pulapaka is the Executive Chef and Co-Owner of the highly acclaimed Cress Restaurant in DeLand FL. Hari is also a full-time tenured Associative Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Stetson University. Hari lives a full life driven by two full-time professions.

As a chef, Hari received a classical culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, has trained at Canoe in Toronto and opened Cress in 2008 with his wife Dr. Jenneffer Pulapaka, who is a podiatric surgeon with her own private practice The DeLand Foot and Leg Center. Jenneffer is also co-owner of Cress and is its Wine Director and General Manager. Cress was recently rated the #1 restaurant in the Greater Orlando area by ZAGAT for 2013. Hari is a three-time (2014, 2013, 2011) semifinalist for The James Beard Award for Best Chef South and a two-time (2012, 2013) nominee for Food & Wine Magazine’s The People’s Best New Chef. Hari recently attended the first official James Beard Foundation Boot Camp in Louisville for Policy and Action as one of only 15 chefs nationwide and now serves on the advisory board of CAN (The Chef Action Network) which is supported by the James Beard Foundation. Hari has cooked at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City and has been invited to cook there again in June 2014. Hari and Jenneffer actively support a wide variety of philanthropic endeavours all across Central Florida and help raise thousands of dollars every year for a variety of food and health related causes. Since the inception and more so now, Hari is passionate about finding ways to improve the regional food system of Central Florida in particular, and the nation, as a whole. Hari is also a Certified Executive Chef of The American Culinary Federation and is going through training to be ACE (Approved Culinary Evaluator) trained.

As a mathematician, Hari received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from The University of Florida in 1995 under the direction of Professor Andrew Vince, an M.S. in Mathematics under the supervision of Professor James Lawrence at George Mason University, and a B.Sc. in Mathematics from St. Xavier’s College at the University of Mumbai. Hari is has published several papers in graph theory, number theory, and problem solving. After holding academic positions at Valdosta State University and a visiting position at Georgia Tech, Hari has been at Stetson University since 2000.

For more information, please visit: (mostly for Chef Hari) OR (about Cress Restaurant) OR (mostly for Mathematician Hari)

Entries by Hari Pulapaka, Ph.D., C.E.C.

From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: Look Around & One May See

(0) Comments | Posted November 21, 2014 | 5:09 PM

Most of us are pre-occupied by all that life has to offer within the context of our own lives. And that is completely understandable. In my kitchen, I expect the servers to know whether the fish is roasted or poached during a seat of the pants Chef's Table creation. Well,...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: Some Questions Can Be Wrong

(1) Comments | Posted November 12, 2014 | 3:01 PM

As a teacher, I believe that questions, like answers, can be wrong. For example, if we are trying to determine whether all certified organic eggs are from free-range chickens and someone asks "Why are organically raised chickens being fed GMO feed?" Well, that is the wrong (in the sense of...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: The Calculus of Cooking

(1) Comments | Posted November 7, 2014 | 3:06 PM

In a nutshell, calculus is the mathematical study of change. One of the most common curiosities about my lifestyle is the connection between mathematics and cooking and I get the obvious questions like, "So, you measure really precisely?" or "It must help when you are baking." My sincere response is...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: The Total Restaurant

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2014 | 9:51 AM

"Everything in Moderation (including moderation)", they say. While this formula for life doesn't work for all, it has by and large worked for me until now as I juggle two full-time, intense careers as best as I can. Ten years ago, there was nothing moderate about my year-long 7 a.m....

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: The Terroir of Food

(0) Comments | Posted November 3, 2014 | 6:06 PM

Terroir, is a descriptor for the soil, the land, and ultimately, the distinctive soul of a wine. The word assigns place to a wine. For some time now, many chefs have been (proudly) sharing the source of their ingredients with their guests. Most farm-to-table restaurants list their farms in some...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: For the Love of It All

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2014 | 5:50 PM


As chefs, we are inspired by a myriad of elements. But, perhaps, the greatest one of all is love. The love we may share for someone in our lives inspires us to express our deepest feelings for them in creative and imaginative ways....

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: No Curry For You, Come Back One Year!

(0) Comments | Posted October 21, 2014 | 4:31 PM

"Pulapaka, what kind of name is that? It sounds Hawaiian." "So, what kind of food do you serve at Cress?" Now, that's a fair question and my response is always one of two. "Good Food", but when that doesn't suffice for an answer, I elaborate, "Well, we draw flavor inspirations...

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From The Ivory Tower Kitchen: Cultivating the Chef Advocates of Tomorrow

(0) Comments | Posted October 20, 2014 | 6:19 PM


Almost 10 years ago, I graduated from culinary school at the age of 39. From the very first day, I was determined to simply be the best student I could be and never really considered having my own restaurant. It may have had...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: Teaching in the Kitchen -- 6 Lessons 6 Years Later

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2014 | 4:40 PM


It is my great privilege and honor to be able to teach for a living. So, when I decided to open a restaurant, I naturally assumed that my vast experience in interacting with young adults would seamlessly transition into the restaurant...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: Do You Really Want Consistent Flavor?

(0) Comments | Posted August 11, 2014 | 6:15 PM

Consistency is a highly desired and even required attribute in a wide variety of contexts. For example, no one should have to fear that perhaps the nuts and bolts on a commercial aircraft may not meet the specifications of safety and comfort. Consistent flavors in a dish however, may not...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: Imagine a World Where Kids Eat Their Veggies

(3) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 10:16 AM

I remember my first real meal (the accidental whopper with cheese does not count) in the United States. It was in Radford, VA. My host from a Blacksburg, VA church invited me to dinner and he chose a massive all-you-can-eat kind of place. Slightly overwhelmed by all the options, I...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: Professional Chefs And Mathematics Professors: A Comparison

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2014 | 11:57 AM

Easily, the most common question I get asked is "Which do you like better: Teaching Mathematics or Cooking?" And my response is always the same: "I like them both. When I am in the classroom, I like teaching and when I am in the kitchen, I like cooking." After several...

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From The Ivory Tower Kitchen: Why Chefs Can and Must Lead Movements of Social Change

(0) Comments | Posted June 25, 2014 | 2:24 PM

Every day, a single tweet or post by a famous chef seems to garner the interest and following of thousands of loyal fans and followers. While it may pale in comparison to the buzz generated when a movie star does the same thing, I would argue that chefs are uniquely...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: How Fresh Is Fresh Enough?

(0) Comments | Posted June 20, 2014 | 11:55 AM

For many years now, the farm-to-table movement has been championing the power of showcasing the farmers and their produce. Some might argue, it's all farm-to-table and that might not be too far from the truth. However, when well-meaning chefs use the phrase, they are referring not just to using the...

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From The Ivory Tower Kitchen: Local Food for Global Thought

(1) Comments | Posted February 25, 2014 | 4:12 PM

The first time I used the phrase "I am a citizen of the world" publicly, it was as a junior faculty member during a somewhat heated academic debate following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. I recall a former college dean ridiculing me for being naive, unpatriotic, and...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: The Birth of a Culinary Renaissance

(0) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 4:48 PM

In an age when locavores and foodies scour the culinary scene for the next hotbed of gastronomic excitement, Central Florida has once and for all staked her claim as a legitimate culinary destination. A recent remarkable gathering of chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, farmers and suppliers at one of the nation's...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: Do You Know Where Your Next Meal Comes From?

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 5:31 PM

For most of my twenty-one years in Mumbai, I knew where my next meal came from. But I didn't really know where many of the ingredients came from. At the time, I didn't think to care. During graduate school in the U.S., there were many occasions when instant ramen noodles...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: Eight Lessons I Learned About Seafood Sustainability From An Octopus

(0) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 10:27 AM

A few days ago, I joined a small and selected group of chefs and culinarians from around the country as a 2013 Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force participant. The two day event hosted by The Monterey Bay Aquarium at The Carmel Valley Ranch engaged 20 individuals in...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: If You Are Against Animal Abuse, You Should Also Be Against Vegetable Abuse

(13) Comments | Posted November 27, 2013 | 2:01 PM

I was born in Mumbai, India and raised on a strict vegetarian diet. I don't recall ever lacking flavor in the food prepared for me. Mind you, sometimes, I used a spicy condiment as a crutch to get through the meal, but everything I ever ate for the first 21...

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From the Ivory Tower Kitchen: Less Can Be More

(0) Comments | Posted November 16, 2013 | 1:51 PM

As chefs, we are driven by the ingredients, seasons, culture and to some degree, personal preferences. Ingredients like Kobe beef, white truffles, and foie gras, which are found on a wide range of restaurant menus offer decadence and "exclusivity."

As a chef, you have to really try to make...

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