“When it comes to food, I like to play the field,” says John Zucker, owner of the Cru Catering and Cru Cafe. “That’s what makes the combination of a catering business and a restaurant perfect for me – I can’t be loyal to just one genre.”

Formerly executive chef for Sonoma Cafe and Wine Bar in Charleston, today John Zucker is one of the most sought-after restaurant consultants in the Southeast. He returned to Charleston about three years ago to open Cru Catering, a full-service, customized catering company – and opened Cru Cafe, featuring upscale comfort food, earlier this year.

Zucker has served as a restaurant consultant for McGrady’s, 39 Rue de Jean and Fish, in Charleston, SC, and Nona’s Italian Kitchen in Atlanta.

Zucker’s background is what makes his expertise so valuable to would-be restaurateurs and restaurant-goers alike. The #1 graduate of his class from the Cordon Bleu in Paris, Zucker has fifteen years experience in the hospitality industry. At one time or another, he has held virtually every job in a restaurant – he literally knows the business inside out.

Following graduation from the Cordon Bleu, Zucker studied under Wolfgang Puck at Spago in Las Vegas, NV, where he adopted Puck’s rigid standards, “Do it right and use the best possible ingredients.” From there, he became sous chef for the opening of Canoe, which was nominated “Best New Restaurant of the Year,” by the James Beard Society. A long list of consulting jobs followed.

“I’ve coordinated catering at all the restaurants where I’ve worked,” says Zucker, “One of my favorite things about being a chef is working directly with people – sitting down one-on-one to create a custom menu that is interesting and innovative.

Today, Zucker is putting his expertise to work with the launch of his restaurant and catering business, which feature Eclectic Modern American Cuisine (so called because of the Italian, Asian, Southern, Southwestern and Caribbean influences).