Published on September 26, 2023 by Scarlet Thompson  
James Briscione

The right ingredients mixed together can make for a perfect dish. That’s what Samford hopes for in its plan to enrich the student dining experience, with one unique piece of that recipe being James Briscione ‘01.

Samford has officially dubbed the Food Network star the university’s first ever culinary advisor. The role will allow Briscione to contribute to staff training, new menu options and even develop a teaching kitchen.

“We are just starting to scratch the surface of this partnership but one of the things I foresee is that sometimes you get out of college and don’t know what to feed yourself, and don’t know where to start,” said Briscione. “The teaching kitchen will help students with basic life skills, sharing some simple meals they can put together.” 

This culinary collaboration with the two-time Chopped winner follows a massive cafeteria renovation by Samford, as well as the implementation of a new food services provider in the Ralph W. Beeson University Center. It’s hoped all the changes will lead to increased use of the cafeteria and continued student engagement.

“Part of Samford’s new strategic plan calls for fostering a community committed to overall wellness and creating opportunities for all students to connect with and contribute to formative activities,” said Wade Walker, Director of Business Services. “With the addition of Chef James, it shows we are committed to making our dining service program the best it can possibly be.”

Briscione recently showcased his new role on Family Weekend, whipping up butternut squash gnocchi in the teaching kitchen as students watched, learned and of course, tasted. He will likely host similar demonstrations at Homecoming and around the holidays. 

As an alum, serving as the culinary advisor is Briscione’s way of passing down a recipe that worked for him as a student.  He says Samford’s “secret sauce” contains ingredients – particularly passion and encouragement - that are hard to measure anywhere else.

“I had the support of my instructors and advisors at Samford to help me be a part of the community here, get an education and have a job all at once. I would not be who I am, nor where I am, had I not made the decision to attend Samford,” said Briscione.
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.