That’s Amore! – Jennifer Polak ’95


Jennifer Polak, ’95 has a passion for preparing food for others. She discovered it shortly after graduating from Syracuse’s Fowler High School when she began working in local restaurants. Her desire to make it her career brought her to OCC where she enrolled in the Hospitality Management program. “I learned so much from my professors during my time there. Terri O’Hare, Jillann Neely and Jim Drake were instrumental in my development and overall awareness of what was needed to succeed in this business.”

After earning her degree Polak moved to Denver and spent four years working at the Brown Palace Hotel and at Wolfgang Puck restaurant. “I was exposed to making everything from scratch. Once I started to work with the ingredients and learned how to create exciting dishes it’s all I wanted to do!”

A family illness brought Polak back to Syracuse where she worked at popular restaurants Riley’s and Lemon Grass. Each stop on her career path introduced her to new ways of doing things and ultimately the confidence she could start her own business. In 2005 she and her husband opened a restaurant named Choices. It stayed open until 2008. “I’m very proud of what we did there. I learned a lot about the business, lessons you don’t learn until you experience it.”

Customers can expect their dishes to feature fresh pasta, which is made daily.
Customers are treated to fresh pasta daily at Pastificio.

In May Polak opened another restaurant, Pastificio on Brooklea Drive in Fayetteville. Pastificio is Italian for pasta factory. Polak makes pasta daily there. The restaurant is part cafe, part bakery and part restaurant. Everything is made from scratch. Customers can take-out or dine-in. “This is a one-stop-shop. It has been a life-long dream of mine to open something like this.”

Pastificio is still in its infancy but Polak feels good about how the business is doing. She credits OCC with building a strong foundation for her career. “The hospitality program gets you ready by stressing the importance of professionalism and detail. It really sets you on a course for success!”

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