BEACON FILE PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN SERVING UP FINE CUISINE — Hari Pulapaka was dishing out a specialty in the January 2020 Taste of DeLand event. He’ll be doing similar work at the Deltona Food-to-Table meal later this month.

The Center at Deltona has been working with area farmers and award-winning chef Hari Pulapaka to create a very special Farm-to-Table dinner. The event will be outdoors in The Center Garden on Sunday, Nov. 21, and will feature an evening of jazz and a dinner to remember.

Pulapaka is a pioneer in Central Florida for using locally sourced ingredients in his cooking. He has four James Beard Award semifinalist nods as Best Chef-South, as well as multiple Food & Wine “People’s Best Chef” recognitions.

He is also a full-time, tenured associate professor of mathematics and in his 22nd year at Stetson University.

Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Pulapaka has been in the United States since 1987. After completing a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Florida in 1995, a professional midlife crisis led to a fast-paced, top-of-the-class graduation with an Associate of Applied Science in the culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu-Orlando in 2004.

Pulapaka won the inaugural “Chefs Taste Challenge” in New Orleans, and Zagat rated his cuisine the “Best in Orlando.” On many occasions, Pulapaka has, by invitation, cooked at the historic James Beard House in New York City, and most recently he was a featured chef at the 2018 James Beard Awards in Chicago.

In 2016, Pulapaka was recognized as a Grist 50 Fixer for his innovative and active work in food-waste reduction. Pulapaka is a Worldchefs Certified Master Chef (WCMC) and a Certified Executive Chef (CEC) of the American Culinary Federation.

When he is not teaching undergraduate mathematics, cooking, speaking, or writing about food, Pulapaka serves as strategic adviser on matters of sustainability for Enroot, and is a chef/partner for that association, which, according to its website, creates curated, farm-to-bottle organic cold-brew wellness teas.

Pulapaka cares deeply about thoughtful eating and a mindful existence. Pulapaka writes a regular column, “The Chef’s Corner,” for the West Volusia Foodie, a publication of The West Volusia Beacon.

The Center at Deltona is acquiring products from Vo-LaSalle Farms in DeLeon Springs, Tomazin Farms in Samsula, and Deltona’s own community garden, located in the city’s Vann Park, for the chef’s menu.

Vo-LaSalle is owned by the Crump family, fourth-generation citrus farmers who live on the farm, surrounded by cows, goats, ducks and a beautiful lake.

The Tomazin family also grows all types of Florida vegetables, and raises chickens, ducks, rabbits and cows.

Farm-to-Table will be 4-6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21. The menu includes fabulous tapas and wine pairings. Admission costs $50 and includes a complimentary citrus signature cocktail containing locally sourced ingredients. Local brewery options will also be available.

Tickets are available on Eventbrite ( and are nonrefundable. Attendees must be 21 or older to participate in wine pairings and alcoholic-beverage consumption.

The Jeff Shepherd Jazz Trio will perform throughout the evening. Deltona High School culinary-arts students will assist with the event.

The Center at Deltona is located at 1640 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd.


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