Ron became a progressive chef in the art of translating Classical French and Modern Cuisine into vegan or vegetarian cuisine using plant-based natural and/or organic ingredients. His premise is that Vegetarianism is a style of cuisine. In 1978, Chef Ron decided that the world stage of the International Culinary Olympics (IKA) would be a viable event to give vegetarian cuisine a contemporary and upscale image. From 1980 to 1996, he led his American Natural Foods team to win seven medals (gold, silver, and bronze) using only vegan plant-based foods and was the first chef in the history of that prestigious event to do so.
American Natural Foods
Gold Medal from the International Culinary Olympics (IKA)
During the course of his sojourn, Chef Ron also began to understand how our collective food choices affect both our personal health and environmental quality. That led him to founding Eco-Cuisine, Inc. in 1991, as a values-based culinary business platform to operationally and cost effectively integrate a modern interpretation of vegetarian cuisine into the US Foodservice industry. Today, Eco-Cuisine food products can be found nationally in foodservice operations. The company’s products and services are a means by which he is bringing to bear his belief that vegetarianism is an innovative 21st century cuisine, way beyond pasta primavera, and is feasible with minimum skill, labor and food cost.
As a Food Technologist (culinologist), Chef Ron’s specialty is research and development of all-natural, vegan or vegetarian savory and dessert food products that are great tasting and nutrient dense. He understands from personal experience a chef’s need to match great tasting cuisine with the need for cost effectiveness, ease of production and nutrition.
Chef Ron has made numerous television appearances, written three cookbooks and many articles for national periodicals. He has been featured in Vegetarian Times, Art Culinaire, The National Culinary Review, USA Today Weekend, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Chicago Sun Times, Los Angeles Times, etc. For more biographical information, please see the extensive interview at http://www.cookingschools.com/interviews/ron-pickarski/
Chef Ron first made the connection between his food choices and personal health when he entered the seminary in 1968 weighing all of 200 pounds. Over the years he lost that weight by changing his diet, and became a vegetarian in 1976 (two months after becoming a Certified Meat Cutter!), then a vegan (no animal-based foods) in 1977 to further improve his health, a dietary choice that he maintains to this day. It was during those early years in the Seminary that he also developed his keen interest in the culinary arts, as well as a desire to help others regain and/or maintain health through their dietary choices which became the focus of his mission as a Franciscan Friar. While still a Friar, Chef Ron became the first professional vegetarian chef to be certified as an Executive Chef by the American Culinary Federation in 1983. That same year, he was also certified as a Food Service Executive, and a few years later he received his Culinary Educator Certification.
As Eco-Cuisine’s President, Certified Executive Chef, and Natural Foods Research and Development Chef/Consultant, Ron Pickarski wears many different hats (or “toques” in culinary jargon), and always has during his long career as a culinary pioneer with vegetarian natural foods.
From the early days as a line cook for his family’s diner in Petoskey, Michigan, to being the sous chef and later executive chef for the Franciscan Friary where he served in that capacity during part of his 23 years of service as a Friar (monk), to winning medals at the quadrennial International Culinary Olympics in Germany for 16 years, to founding Eco-Cuisine in 1991, Chef Ron’s culinary journey has led him through many different aspects of the culinary arena.