AUBURN, Ala. (EETV)- Chef Emil Topel is the senior executive chef of Auburn University and the face behind students’s favorite dining options.

Growing up in London, England, Topel began his career with food as a trainee cook in a pub.

Moving to the states, Topel’s work as a chef quickly took off as he began employment with Chartwells, the current food service provider for Auburn University.

Though up for bid this Spring, Chartwells provides the chefs and food service for all of the university.

Topel, through the company, has worked his way to the top, not only becoming the head chef of Auburn University for 10 years now but earning the award for “Chef of the Year” for the entire country.

Other awards earned by Topel include the sustainability award from Auburn University, making him the first non-Auburn employee to be granted such an honor.

Topel’s leadership, however, is what sets him apart among his peers.

“He was very very hard on me the first few years, which made me better,” said Chef Molly Blackmon. “I just call it tough love.”

Blackmon, among others, works directly underneath the leadership of Topel in a variety of on-campus restaurants.

These on-campus restaurants are serviced by a variety of chefs working to create delicious food for the students each day.

Majority of the restaurants students frequent at the university, however, are creations that began in Topel’s mind.

“Plains to Plate, API, 844 Burger, Chicken and Biscuits, all of those are my concepts, so I get to play,” said Topel. “I open up restaurants, and then we move them around and change the menus and everything.”

Topel’s creativity among restaurant ideas and food creations combined with his tough but loving leadership make for an award winning chef who is proud to call Auburn University home for 10 years now.