Name: Darlene 'StarDar' Jones
Occupation: Owner & Curator, Star Fusion Restaurant Concepts / Co-Owner, Blu Diamond Juicery
Darlene Jones has overcome many obstacles to build a name for herself in the West Philadelphia community where she grew up. After being laid off from a prior full-time job, Jones turned to cooking and selling food out of her home to make ends meet. Through determination and perseverance she reinvented herself, building her restaurant, Star Fusion, from the ground up. She has now expanded to open a second location, Star Fusion Express, and co-owns Blu Diamond Juicery as well.
1. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
A typical day at the restaurant is filled with tasks. Here are the main things I look for:
2. Why did you choose this career/industry?
As child I watched my grandmother cook and make everyone happy, and now I cook and make people happy. I love nourishing people.
3. What was your first job in the industry?
McDonalds! I was truly the definition of a burger flipper. I worked the grill and I loved it.
4. Briefly describe your career path and how you got to where you are today.
I worked in corporate business for years before being laid off from my job in executive sales. After that, I fell back into my passion of cooking as a hobby at first. But it made me happy, and with the skills I developed through my corporate experiences, I began selling food out of my home, and realized I could make a business out of it.
5. What is your favorite part of your job?
Serving people good quality food in the neighborhood where I grew up. I love when people enjoy my food. Having a satisfied guest is my favorite part.
6. What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part is dealing with varying personalities within my team members, however I remind them of our mission and it's usually fine.
7. What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing a culinary career?
Make sure you are passionate about what you create, because your creation will shine if you love what you do.
8. What achievement are you most proud of?
Opening Blu Diamond Juicery and Star Fusion Express. It was a dream of mine to open up a restaurant in the neighborhood I grew up in. My first job was on 52nd and chestnut, and now my Blu Diamond Juicery is on 52nd and Walnut, only about a block away. My second Star Fusion location, Star Fusion Express, just opened a short distance away on Parkside Ave. I can't believe I'm now able to give jobs to people of the community that raised me.
9. What do you like to do when you’re not working?
10. What is your favorite thing to make (or eat)?
Don't judge me now—chicken wings. I love creating sauce and rubs for chicken wings.
Learn more about Darlene Jones' story in this video interview with Best Decisions Podcast.
PA ProStart Blog
The PA ProStart Blog is for Pennsylvania students and teachers of the ProStart Program- a nationwide, two-level high school career and technical education program that teaches culinary arts and restaurant fundamentals.