Jim Perko Sr. CEC, AAC
Jim Perko started his career and love of cooking as a child cooking and gardening with his parents. His professional career started 36 years ago when as a student at the Culinary Institute of America Jim was chosen to be one of four apprentices to the 1976 US Culinary Olympic Team.
After graduating, Jim secured a position with the 1977-78 US Antarctic Expedition cooking for scientists in Antarctica. Upon returning home, Jim married his high-school sweetheart, became executive sous chef for Marriott Hotels, and at the age of 26, accepted his first executive chef position for the 489 room Bond Court Hotel. Jim’s career in health care came in 1985 when he took a position as the Executive Chef of Cleveland Clinic’s Lakewood Hospital.
In 1988, Jim founded the national award-winning Food is Knowledge program that is now a signature part of the Cleveland Clinic’s community outreach wellness.
In 1990, after winning two American Culinary Federation (ACF) gold medals, Jim competed and earned a place on the 1992 US Culinary Olympic Team. There, he won five gold medals from the United States tryouts, and competitions in England, Ireland and Germany. Jim and his teammates finished third out of 52 teams from 30 countries in the 1992 Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt.
In 1998, Jim became Executive Chef for Cleveland Clinic’s main campus, servicing the Board of Governors and Medical Staff. Jim now serves as the Executive Chef for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute where he is able to combine his culinary expertise with his passion for healthy cooking and living. Jim does this by teaching, creating and helping others in the Cleveland Clinic’s Lifestyle 180 program, public school districts, community venues, and personal executive clients. He is an ACF-certified Judge and the innovative creator of hundreds of deliciously healthy recipes, many of which can be found in the Dr.Oz’s and Dr. Roizen’s YOU book series.
Jim has presented nationally to a variety of venues from Cirque du Soleil troupe at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, the California Walnut Board, The Ohio Dietetic Association, American Culinary Federation, and numerous wellness related events.
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