Nijo Joseph, Assistant Director of Culinary Excellence
Originally from Kerala in southwestern India, Nijo recalls childhood days of cooking Indian cuisine with his mother. “The pride she took in preparing meals had a great effect on me, which is why I felt the calling to be a chef,” he says.
He embarked on his culinary journey at the University of Madras. There, he trained in French cuisine as part of his Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel & Catering Management. He accented his education with externships at the Trident Oberoi in Mumbai and the Centaur Hotel in New Delhi. At the Royal Mirage in Dubai, Nijo mastered Mediterranean, Moroccan, and Middle Eastern cuisine. As a Chef for Carnival Cruise Lines, he further honed his kitchen management skills, where the philosophy of preparation without error is key. Making his way to the United States, he assisted in opening Taste of India, a fine dining restaurant in Melbourne, Florida.
Nijo joined Stanford in 2003, and since then he has served at a number of R&DE’s venues. He began at Alumni Café, quickly advancing to the position of Sous Chef before moving on to Schwab Executive Dining. He then served at Florence Moore Dining as Chef de Cuisine, leading the culinary team following extensive physical and menu renovations. Nijo has also supported Lakeside Dining and Arrillaga Family Dining Commons. With this experience, today he is able to effectively support all dining halls as Regional Executive Chef.
Most recently, Nijo was certified in the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation cooking curriculum, and through Jamie Oliver's Cook Smart Program at the Teaching Kitchen @ Stanford, uses Jamie’s hands-on curriculum to teach students the fundamentals of cooking delicious meals while understanding how to eat healthier and build confidence in cooking for themselves and others.
Of working with R&DE Stanford Dining, he says, “I am very proud of my chef team here. To make sure we succeed as one team, I serve as a mentor to my colleagues.” Nijo is particularly proud of the menu he served to members of The Culinary Institute of America and Google, which featured his innovative Kamut Paella with grilled vegetables and stuffed zucchini flowers.