In 1984, Rochelle received her Bachelor of Arts in Literature & Languages from the University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA was only the first stop of the many accomplishments Rochelle has achieved in her life thus far. After graduating from UCLA she then began to pursue her dreams in the culinary world.
In 2011, Rochelle was added to the UCLA’s Web-based Class Notes for her great success with Chefwear. To find out more details about the success of Rochelle since her time at UCLA, please read the article below.
Rochelle Huppin ’84
Rochelle Huppin ’84 always had her heart set on attending culinary school in Paris. However, her parents had different plans for her, suggesting she take a more realistic route by attending college in the United States first and culinary school later. Having attained both her academic and culinary goals, Huppin now provides the culinary industry her talent as a chef, as well as her creative innovations for chef attire. What started as a personal preference led to a transformation in chef apparel and style, and the start of a one-of-a-kind business.
Huppin earned a degree in Jewish Studies at UCLA. During her senior year, she worked part-time at the Hotel Bel-Air, an experience that kept her dreams of a culinary career alive. After graduation, she attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She then moved back to Los Angeles to work as a pastry assistant at Citrus, owned by world famous chef Michel Richard, located on Melrose Avenue. Huppin’s culinary expertise flourished and she landed a job as the opening pastry chef for Bradley Ogden’s Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, Calif. It was only a matter of time before she was recognized for her signature devil’s food cake and butterscotch pudding.
Huppin “pursues powerful flavors with the enthusiasm of a pirate on a treasure hunt,” proclaimed Chocolatier Magazine.
As an expert chef, Huppin spent long days in the kitchen wearing her scratchy chef outfit. She experienced firsthand the discomfort of wearing the unflattering traditional black and white polyester chef uniform, and decided cooking would be significantly more enjoyable if she were just more comfortable. So with a few yards of printed cotton fabric and the help of a friend’s sewing talents, she created a new chef wardrobe made of cotton instead of polyester. She then introduced the apparel to her co-workers.
“Chefs are young, creative people. They really welcomed the opportunity to wear the new apparel,” Huppin explained. Upon her return to Los Angeles to cook for world renowned chef Wolfgang Puck, Huppin established Chefwear, Inc., providing a full line of contemporary and traditional chef clothing.
“As the number of restaurants has increased, the chefs’ visibility and the need to look professional has increased,” Huppin points out. Along with diversifying chefs’ attire, Chefwear’s innovative products are designed to meet the needs of other individuals in the restaurant industry, such as hosts, waiters and busboys.
According to Huppin, the success of Chefwear can be attributed to her experience as a chef rather than as a businessperson. She states, “In fact, I wasn’t really in business when I first started. I was just making pants for myself.”
As Huppin’s network of chefs has grown, so has Chefwear, which now demands her full attention. With the help of her partner and husband, she is able to manage the business, which extends from Los Angeles to Chicago. Much to the delight of her friends and family, she still makes time to bring her famous devil’s food cake and butterscotch pudding back to the table.