Earlier this fall, Nestle product development chef Juerg Wismer was inducted into an elite group of chefs called The Honorable Order of the Golden Toque.
Wismer called the nomination a big honor, noting that the international nonprofit isn’t about who’s the best chef—it’s about supporting each other and promoting the culinary arts.
Just 100 individuals from across the world are invited to be part of the exclusive organization—members can’t apply. Its mission, according to the order’s website, is to create a forum to share “culinary knowledge and expertise,” to encourage young people entering the field and to enhance their industry. Wismer said it all comes down to support for one another in a challenging, yet stressful, field.
Wismer has spent decades in the culinary arts. He got his start as a pastry chef in Switzerland, and moved along, year after year, working at hotels and restaurants in Europe and the United States. A job with Nestle took him first to California and then to Ohio.
He now works as a Product Development Chef at the headquarters in Solon, helping to create products for large customers, like schools, hotels and restaurant chains. The customer comes to them with an idea—like a sauce that needs to taste good after it’s been frozen or canned—and his team makes it happen. The pace is quick, an aspect of the job he really enjoys.
“It’s always something new,” Wismer said. “It’s very challenging.”
The Honorable Order of the Golden Toque offers members the chance to share their experiences in the field, but it also helps young adults get their start with scholarships. Members donate to the fund and scholarships are handed out annually to a few students.
Wismer, a Brecksville resident, warned that the hours are long and the work hard, but said students who want to enter the culinary arts need a passion for food. They should travel if possible and try different types of food, food they haven’t had before, and try to make it themselves. He also encouraged students to find a mentor in the field and to open themselves up to different types of venues—the culinary arts includes more than just big restaurants, he said.
“It’s a great job,” Wismer said.