Name: Rachel Prokupek
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Major: Marketing & Management (Entrepreneurship & Innovation) in Wharton
Activities: Member of Alpha Phi, member of Friars Senior Society, previously, the Executive Director of Penn Appetit
34th Street: You took a gap year. What made you choose to take one?
Rachel Prokupek: I was really fortunate that I had the support to do it, and I knew that it would be difficult to do at any other point in my life. Why not now?
Street: What did you do during your gap year?
RP: I studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. I got a degree in cuisine and pastries. Then, I finished it off by working in a kitchen in New York City.
Street: Why did you choose France?
RP: It seemed like the classic place to go.
Street: What got you into cooking?
RP: My parents really loved to cook, so I was lucky that I got to grow up around home-cooked meals and good food. I think it was [also] a lot of watching the Food Network and reading cookbooks. However interests normally form, it naturally formed intensely in high school. It definitely came from my family and close friends.
Street: Why did you eventually choose to go to Wharton?
RP: I originally started off in the College. After my experience with food, I realized that it’s a long–term goal of mine to go back into the food industry. I’m not sure in what capacity, but I thought studying marketing and entrepreneurship, or just business generally, could blend really well with culinary arts if I wanted to go into the business side of food, whatever that means. I’m still figuring that out, but those two work hand in hand.
Street: Would you ever consider creating your own restaurant?
RP: That’s a dream goal of mine, and it’s really hard to do. It requires a lot of experience. I’m really lucky that I made some of my closest friends in the world at culinary school who are now some of the most talented chefs that I know. We always talk about one day going into business together.
Street: You mentioned that you wrote for Penn Appetit. What was that like?
RP: I actually wrote my first article for Penn Appetit during my gap year, before I even came to Penn. I started off on the Editorial team, and then I was the Culinary Director. Then, I was the Executive Director for two years. When I was Culinary Director, I worked with a group of 15 or so people and created Penn’s first ever cookbook called Whisk. That was a year-long project, and it was amazing. It’s a beautiful cookbook. The photographers and everyone was so talented. I did that for a year, and then I led it for two years. I just ended my term. It’s been my main involvement; I put a lot of time into it.
Street: What is it like being in Friars?
RP: I just joined Friars this fall. It’s a really cool group to be a part of. It’s a senior society. To get in, you have to have been a leader of something on campus, whether it’s a sports team, a publication, a performing arts group, or a Greek organization. It’s a really amazing group to be a part of because they’re so supportive of everyone. You get to go to everyone’s events. Every single week there are multiple events to go to because people are always having shows, sports games, fundraisers, or social gatherings.
Street: Who’s your favorite music artist?
Street: Favorite place to study on campus?
Street: Favorite class at Penn?
RP: Digital marketing and e-commerce taught by David Bell
Street: Favorite thing to cook?
Street: There are two types of people at Penn…
RP: Those who keep themselves busy with a million things, and those who keep themselves busy with one.