James Madison University

NEW COLLEGES FORMED A plan to reorganize the College of Integrated Science and Technology into two colleges took effect July 1, 2012. The new colleges are the College of Health and Behavioral Studies and the College of Integrated Science and Engineering.

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Health Sciences Graduate, Nathan Lyon, May be "The Next Food Network Star"

By Amanda Rivera
03/30/06

PHOTO: Nathan LyonMeet Nathan Lyon (Health Sciences - '94): he loves cooking, teaching and being in the limelight, because of that he may be “The Next Food Network Star.” The James Madison University Health Sciences graduate is currently featured on the Food Network’s talent search show. Through a series of culinary tasks, finalists are voted off one-by-one until a winner is announced. The last chef standing will receive his or her own show on the network.

Growing up in Arlington, VA, Nathan learned to cook from his mother and grandmother at an early age. His parents would leave him a blank check to go to the grocery and buy the necessary ingredients to prepare dinner for the family. Nathan says, “Cooking is a way of giving of yourself and your love to family and friends.”

Nathan transferred to JMU from Old Dominion University and chose to pursue a major in Health Sciences with a concentration in Public Health. Although some may find Nathan’s choice of degree unrelated to his current endeavors, he says “The jump from Health Sciences to culinary arts wasn’t a jump at all. Even now, I refer to things I learned in some of my very first Health Sciences classes in Nutrition and Physiology.” One especially helpful lesson that Nathan learned involved “perimeter shopping,” which stresses the importance of buying items from the outer regions of the grocery store, such as fresh produce, meat products, and milk, which not only cost less, but are healthier.

After graduating from JMU in 1994, Nathan spent six months traveling Europe. It was there that he became acquainted with the regional diets which defined each country. Nathan found that meat and potatoes could be commonly found in Ireland, and that Mediterranean countries maintained a diet including tomatoes, olives, and fresh fish. He points out, “Europe seems to really rely on what is available locally when they cook.” Nathan encourages everyone who cooks to focus on using unprocessed fresh foods for their “incredible flavor and texture” He comments that fresh, seasonal food is so much more “alive and vibrant.”

Back in the states, Nathan began working at several restaurants before entering the California School of Culinary Arts (CSCA) in Pasadena, CA, an affiliate of the renowned Le Cordon Bleu. Graduating from CSCA, Nathan went on to work at “Lucques,” with Suzanne Goin, who was voted by Food and Wine magazine as one of the “Best New Chefs of 1999.” While Nathan loves his job, he admits that it comes with its fair share of hardships. “You have to be PASSIONATE about food. Be sure this is what you want to do because it is very hard work. My hands always hurt. I get burned all the time. You spend $45,000 to find a job that may pay you a maximum of $12.00 an hour,” he says. Nathan advises other students against attending culinary school right away, but says to instead get some experience at a restaurant to see if it is really what you want to do.

Known as “The Professor,” on his season of “The Next Food Network Star,” Nathan competed against seven other finalists. While the show has already completed filming, viewers can watch the culinary battles go down every Sunday at 9. Official voting for your favorite chef will begin on April 16. While Nathan is not at liberty to disclose the outcome of the competition, he says that if he did win, his show would be called “From the Market to Your Table.” Visiting different farms and small towns around the country, Nathan would cook with people he meets along the way using fresh, locally grown products. So, what kind of lessons did Nathan gain from his time behind all the cameras: “It sounds really basic, but BE YOURSELF! You can only go so far showing people what you want them to see. Eventually the real you is going to come out.