I'm the Chef & Co-Owner of Cress Restaurant. I am also a tenured Associate Professor of Mathematics at Stetson University in DeLand, FL.
Hari Pulapaka is the Executive Chef and Co-Owner of the highly acclaimed Cress Restaurant in DeLand FL. Hari is also a full-time tenured Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Stetson University. Hari lives a full life driven by two full-time professions.
As a chef, Hari received a classical culinary degree in 2005 from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, has trained at Canoe in Toronto and opened Cress in 2008 with his wife Dr. Jenneffer Pulapaka, who is a podiatric surgeon with her own private practice The DeLand Foot and Leg Center. Jenneffer is also co-owner of Cress and is its Wine Director and General Manager. Since 2012, Cress has been rated the #1 restaurant in the Greater Orlando area by ZAGAT and one of America’s Top Restaurants. Hari is a four-time (2015, 2014, 2013, 2011) semifinalist for The James Beard Award for Best Chef South and a two-time (2013, 2012) nominee for Food & Wine Magazine’s The People’s Best New Chef. Hari attended the first official James Beard Foundation Boot Camp in Louisville for Policy and Action as one of only 15 chefs nationwide and is an active board member of CAN (The Chef Action Network) which is a division of the James Beard Foundation Impact Programs. Hari has cooked at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City on multiple occasions. Hari & Jenneffer serve on the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force. The couple actively supports a wide variety of philanthropic endeavours all across Central Florida and help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars every year for a variety of food and health related causes. Since the inception and more so now, Hari is passionate about finding ways to improve the regional food system of Central Florida in particular, and the nation, as a whole. Hari is one of the founding members of goFLA (Greater Orlando Food Leaders Alliance), a growing network of chefs, farmers, food writers, and artisans who are dedicated to promoting Central Florida as a dining destination and showcasing the tremendous food bounty of our region. Cress Restaurant has hosted multiple “Lesser Fish” Dinners and continues to champion sustainability issues in Central Florida including maintaining an active Food Waste Program. Cress Restaurant is a restaurant partner of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, one of only a handful in the State of Florida. Hari is also a Certified Executive Chef of The American Culinary Federation and is ACF Certification Evaluator. Hari completed his first book “Dreaming in Spice” which launched on January 29, 2015. Hari is also pursuing the CMC certification of the ACF.
As a mathematician, Hari received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from The University of Florida in 1995 under the direction of Professor Andrew Vince, an M.S. in Mathematics under the supervision of Professor James Lawrence at George Mason University, and a B.Sc. in Mathematics from St. Xavier’s College at the University of Mumbai. Hari is has published several papers in graph theory, number theory, and problem solving. After holding academic positions at Valdosta State University and a visiting position at Georgia Tech, Hari is in his 16th year at Stetson University and teaches a wide variety of courses in Mathematics at the undergraduate level.