Chef Tom Gumpel ’86, Master Baker
CIA Alumni Bio
Chef Tom Gumpel likes to take a hands-on approach to his job. For nearly 13 years, Tom was the vice president of research and development at Panera.
When he wasn’t flying off to exotic locales to discover the next star ingredient, Tom was usually on the road, visiting Panera’s bakery cafés and suppliers, as well as sharing his insights with industry groups like the Research Chefs Association. “The traveling was great,” Tom recalls. “I’ve always gathered my energy and ideas from the people around me and from the experiences I face day to day. ”
Now president of MDJ Baking in Sarasota, FL, Tom is very clear on the direction he wants to take the company’s products. “My vision is ‘the magic of the bakery,’ which is the magic of who we are as a company,” he says. “It’s about creating great-quality products and being able to replicate that quality by using the best ingredients and techniques.”
A commitment to quality has been a constant throughout Tom’s career, as a successful baker and pastry chef, an instructor and associate dean for baking and pastry arts at the CIA, a Certified Master Baker, and as a member of the three-man American team that won the prestigious Grand Prize at the 1999 World Cup of Baking in Paris. He attributes much of his past and current success to the CIA. “My culinary and baking and pastry training comes into play every day,” Tom says. “It has emphasized to me how important the fundamentals are.” Fundamentals such as, say, experiencing the food world hands-on.
Chef Tom Gumpel majored in culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He is the president of MDJ Baking, Inc. in Sarasota, FL.