When she’s not helping Kalamazoo College’s Admission Office recruit the next batch of first-year students to campus, Operations Manager Teresa Fiocchi is often cooking up something special in her kitchen. In fact, she is an award-winning chef with her own website, who is slicing through the competition in the Favorite Chef contest, presented by author, TV personality and chef Carla Hall.
Fiocchi has collected praise in the past as the Cook of the Week in the Daily Herald newspaper’s Chopped competition. She also won the SpartanNash Souper Competition in Grand Rapids in 2018, providing a $2,500 prize, an additional $2,500 for the South Michigan Food Bank in Battle Creek, and a chance to make her dish on TV.
Yet Favorite Chef provides bigger fish to fry.
By reaching the competition’s quarterfinals, Fiocchi’s already in the top 1% of the thousands of nationwide entrants. Plus, with your vote before 10 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, she might keep alive her hope for the whole enchilada: a $25,000 grand prize, a two-page spread in Taste of Home Magazine, and a chance to cook in person with Hall, a chef known in part for her appearances on Top Chef and co-hosting The Chew.
“Food is my love language and feeding people brings me joy,” she said. “People express how they feel about each other differently, but I always say that if I like you, I cook for you. Food should bring people together; whether it’s surrounded by family at the kitchen table, standing at the counter drinking wine and talking about what’s for dinner, or cookies in the breakroom at K—the ultimate goal is finding common ground and time to be together. I think food does that. Food is how I express that I’ve taken the time to think through what would bring you joy.”
Fiocchi loves collecting hundreds of cookbooks and trying new recipes, but family recipes are always favorites. The chef added that she has many happy memories of cooking, especially with family. “Making mom’s potato salad, or Nonni’s tortellini is my way of honoring their lives and the food memories we’ve inherited from them.” She’s the proud owner of a vintage Pillsbury cookbook from 1913; as well as a signed copy of Sister Pie by K alumna Lisa Ludwinski ’06. Yet if she doesn’t love a cookbook, she doesn’t keep it because she knows someone else will fall in love with it.
Perhaps that love could be passed to a K colleague, the folks who make working at the College enjoyable for her.
“I love everything about K,” she said. “I love the institution, but the people are really what makes K so special. We moved to Michigan in 2017 after 50 years in the Chicagoland area and I found my extended family at K in 2018 when I started working in the Admission office. I’m grateful to work with people who are my friends in and out of the office, and that they are all so willing to be my taste testers.”
How to Vote for K’s Favorite Chef
To support Teresa Fiocchi in the Favorite Chef contest, visit her quarterfinalist page and click “Free Daily Vote.” Voters may choose “Verify with Facebook” or “Verify by Card.” Voters who select “Verify by Card” are charged $1 that is immediately refunded. The process ensures that voters select their favorite chef no more than once per day.