Houston Striggow ’79, Susan Sarich, and SusieCakes Honor 50 Years of Culinary Education at Johnson & Wales

Susan Sarich and Houston Striggow Class of 1979

Pictured above from left to right: Susan Sarich and Houston Striggow '79.

Houston Striggow ’79, Susan Sarich, and their company SusieCakes generously sponsored the CFIT 50th Anniversary Challenge as part of oneJWU: 24 Hours of Giving on March 14, 2023. Together, the JWU community surpassed our goal of 50 total gifts to the College of Food Innovation & Technology, unlocking an additional $50,000 for that college.

It was the unique, industry-focused JWU experience—and entrepreneurial spirit—that brought Houston Striggow ’79 to Johnson & Wales University. Currently Chief Development Officer of SusieCakes, a successful and celebrity-favorite collection of bakeries co-founded with his partner and Founder/CEO Susan Sarich in 2006, Striggow credits Johnson & Wales with fostering a deeper understanding of food and an appreciation for the “heart of the house.” 

Striggow earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in 1975 and began working at Victoria Station Restaurants. When he sought to elevate his career a few years later, his mentor, Lewis J. Minor, founder of the L.J. Minor Corporation and a Michigan State faculty member, suggested he attend culinary school to complete a well-rounded education—and specifically recommended Johnson & Wales. Minor was an acquaintance of JWU Chancellor Emeritus John J. Bowen ’77, who provided Striggow’s introduction to the university. “[JWU] was much different than what I experienced at MSU,” Striggow observed, “the culinary learning labs stood out to me and looked like a whole new world of adventure.”

At JWU, Striggow worked closely with faculty who were both world-class instructors and active in the industries for which they prepared their students. “I found my baking instructors to be exceptional chefs…one in particular was Hans Sohre, who taught classical baking and also owned a bakeshop."

I would not trade what I learned or the appreciation I gained of the importance of bakers and chefs in the food service business…having deeper kitchen knowledge proved very useful.
- Houston Striggow '79


Striggow has remained an active member of the Johnson & Wales community over the years, including as a former President of the Alumni Association. Now, some 44 years after graduation, he has joined the newly-established College of Food Innovation & Technology Advisory Council and recently served as a panelist on the 2022 JWU Alumni Executive Panel, Executives in the Food Space Discuss Innovation & Evolution. “Both have been enlightening experiences for me,” Striggow shared. “I look forward to engaging with CFIT Dean Jason R. Evans, Ph.D. in helping to shape the future of the program. The panel also gave me the opportunity to interact with alums who are much younger than me, and it garnered renewed respect for the depth of [their] knowledge and experience.”

With this next generation of food industry leaders in mind, Striggow, his partner Susan Sarich, and their company SusieCakes have made a generous commitment to establish the Houston Striggow ’79 & SusieCakes Endowed Scholarship. As part of this commitment, a $50,000 CFIT 50th Anniversary Challenge gift was unlocked when 50 total gifts to the College of Food Innovation & Technology were made as part of oneJWU, Johnson & Wales University’s annual day of giving, on March 14, 2023.

As JWU celebrates five decades of culinary education, Striggow feels that it is the right time to pay it forward to current students following in his footsteps. “I want to provide opportunities to students and alumni not only with my giving, but also through SusieCakes by providing pastry and baking internship and career opportunities. I feel the programs at JWU align very well with our needs at SusieCakes.” 

Striggow also encourages his fellow alumni, as well as the entire JWU community, to give back in celebration of JWU’s legacy. “On this 50th anniversary of a culinary arts program that has shaped the lives and careers of so many outstanding and renowned chefs, leaders, business owners and educators, think about beginning or continuing your giving journey with JWU. Giving is good—it should make you feel good as well!”

You are invited to join Houston Striggow ’79 and SusieCakes in creating opportunities for today’s Wildcats. Whether you are a loyal donor and member of the Mary & Gertrude Society or this will be your first gift to JWU, our combined support makes a difference.

As Striggow mused, “Giving is about enhancing the lives of others. It matters not what you give, but that you give what you can when you can.” Support tomorrow’s food industry leaders by making your gift today.

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