Meet, then Cook Like an Iron Chef
Long before he starred on the Food Network’s reality-based Iron Chef America, Wayne Johnson of Seattle cooked for his roommates while attending UNC in 1979. He made from-scratch meals using the money they would have typically spent on processed foods. Not only did it taste better, but it cost less, too.
An accounting major, Johnson didn’t have an inkling he was being groomed to operate his own restaurant while working at Conan’s Cave and The Firehouse Restaurant. “I think I fed the whole campus pizzas from Conan’s in 1979!” Johnson says, reflecting on the former 8th Avenue eatery.
He says his mother always told him, “You’re a jack of all trades. You need to master one.” Well, he mastered two. “I could not be more pleased that I studied business and accounting. It has given me a world of confidence in the budgeting and cost controls that are so very important in running a restaurant,” Johnson says.
After researching Seattle-based chefs, a Food Network producer approached Johnson about competing on an episode of season nine of the show, a timed cook-off between top chefs who are given a surprise ingredient to use moments before the contest begins (in Johnson’s case, a cucumber).
“My experience on ICA was surreal. To be asked to cook on the show was amazing, but then to be on the floor of Kitchen Stadium was like ‘wow,’ “ Johnson says.—Brittany Sarconi (BA-11)
A Recipe Created by Johnson on Iron ChefGreen Gazpacho Soup
Yield: 9½ cups (serves 3-4)
1 TBSP Garlic, minced
4 oz Onion, coarse chopped
1 lb Kirby cucumbers, seeded, coarse chopped
4 oz Green bell pepper, coarse chopped
1 oz Cilantro, coarse chopped
1 oz Italian parsley, coarse chopped
6 oz Potato bread, crusts removed – cut into 2” cubes
8 oz Romaine, washed, coarse chopped
8 oz Celery, coarse chopped
1/2 cup Olive oil
1/3 cup Sherry vinegar
3 cups Water, cool
Pro Teams Flourish When Grad Arrives
Mike Fisher (BA-82) added another championship to his résumé when the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA title last season.
The FOX Sports TV analyst, who also runs www.dallasbasketball.com, has become something of an omen for the teams he covers.
After graduating with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication in 1982, Fisher became the Denver Broncos sportswriter for the Greeley Tribune during the Broncos’ AFC Championships in 1987 and 1988.
He moved on to cover the San Francisco 49ers for the Marin County Independent Journal. and The team won back-to-back Super Bowl Championships in 1989 and 1990.
“It started looking like I was a good luck charm,” Fisher says.
He then joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and wrote about the Dallas Cowboys when they won three Super Bowls (1993, 1994 and 1996) in his four years there.
When Mark Cuban bought the Mavericks, he gave Fisher guidance in starting his own media company, which is now the largest independent team website in the NBA.
Fisher says the transition has been smooth. As a mentor once told him: “…it’s OK to wear multiple hats. It’s OK to be a journalist and an opinion-giver and a fan at the same time. The challenge is to adapt the roles as they best fit me and the audience.”
—Brittany Sarconi (BA-11)
Inspiring Legislation to Stand Up to Bullies
By sharing her personal story with lawmakers, Jess Stohlmann (BA-07) helped Colorado become one of the first states in the nation to pass anti-bullying legislation in K-12 schools.
“My story about coming out and bullying was very relevant to help the legislators feel the real side of what it was like” being bullied in high school, Stohlmann says.
The new law, signed by Gov. Hickenlooper, expands on safe schools policy to protect targeted groups, with a specific focus on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
At a minimum, schools are now required to implement anti-bullying policies and educate students and staff about bullying. This law also provides schools with opportunities to apply for grants for implementation.
Since graduating from UNC with a bachelor’s degree in English, Stohlmann says that she has sought work that will help end social inequities.
She is currently the program manager for Golden-based FIRE Within (Future Innovative Resilient Entrepreneurs): Saving Lives Through Business, at the Carson J. Spencer Foundation, a suicide prevention organization for youth.
Stohlmann wants to broaden her current program and try to create a better experience for youth.
“In general, I want to change the world in some small part,” Stohlmann says.
Musician’s Career Takes Off with Two-Continent Tour
Tyler Ward (BA-08) is the second-most successful independent artist in the world, according to the Billboard Top 100 Uncharted list.
Ward started his tour in North America in late September. It will conclude in Europe in mid-November. In North America, he and his crew will travel 12,000 miles in five weeks in a 15-passenger van with a trailer.
After graduating with a Communication and Journalism degree from UNC, Ward moved into a band house (a kind of fraternity house for musicians) and has continued to write, play and produce music ever since.
His career took off after he posted on his YouTube channel a rendition of “We Are the World” as a tribute to the Winter 2010 Olympics. As an independent artist, he posts all of his music on YouTube.
Artists began contacting Ward to collaborate with him soon after the posting. He started producing music and writing songs with artists like The Fray and Ryan Cabrera. He has also provided music to producers from Sony to possibly be used in some upcoming movies.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do what I love and what I have a passion for,” Ward says.
Visit Ward's website at www.tylerwardmusic.com
—Brittany Sarconi (BA-11)
Managing the Mayor’s Office
A day in the life of Janice Sinden (BA-97), chief of staff to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, is “budgeted in 30-minute increments.”
“It starts early and ends late,” she says.
She sets a dizzying pace while working toward a shared vision of making the city exceptional. That ranges from showcasing Denver to world leaders and addressing high school dropout rates through the Denver Education Compact to remaining committed to “being fiscally conservative and working within the confines of tight economic times.”
Sinden, who also studied Education at UNC, graduated with a degree in Political Science.
She has worked with nonprofit, public policy and philanthropic organizations throughout her career.
Before being named chief of staff, she served as executive director of Colorado Concern. She got to know Hancock through the organization, an alliance of Colorado executives working toward solutions to their mutual business challenges.
When Hancock was elected, Sinden approached him to discuss his administration, which led to the job offer that she accepted in July.
“I’ve always been a proud registered Republican, but I work across party lines and divisions — not thinking in terms of Republican or Democrat, but what
I can accomplish,” Sinden says. “That spirit has stayed with me through today.”
— Elizabeth Same