Passion for cooking and writing led to Alex Theo’s ’21 book ‘Soup’

Beginning as a business major, Alex Theo ’21 pursues his love for cooking and writing to new heights after graduating from Elon.

Alex Theo '21Alex Theo ’21 began his Elon story when he first visited campus as an 11-year-old. From then on Theo knew he would one day call Elon his home. Once he enrolled at Elon, Theo majored in marketing with a minor in leadership studies.

“I was a part of several extracurriculars during my time at Elon —arguably too many, though each played a vital role in shaping me into who I am today,” Theo said.

He wasn’t kidding. Theo was a teaching assistant, a New Student Orientation student coordinator and a member of the Twisted Measure a capella group, to name just a few of his activities. “My senior year, I served as an executive intern in the Office of the President, where I had the honor and privilege of working closely with the Deputy Chief of Staff and President Book,” he said.

Theo also received a variety of scholarships, both need- and merit-based, as well as a stipend for travel abroad through the Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows, which made the Elon experience accessible.

After graduation, Theo decided to take a different path.

“Though I am incredibly grateful for my business degree, and it has served me well in the world, business was not necessarily my passion,” he says. “My passions have always been cooking and storytelling. I looked into both writing school and culinary school, and the stars just aligned for the latter. Getting to study cooking and food in Napa Valley, California? I mean, come on.”

Following culinary school, Theo found a way to blend his love for both cooking and writing by publishing “Soup.” Theo explains that the book follows a young boy and an old man as they explore “the magi and truths of the universe while cooking a pot of soup.”

Theo said that the story is written to help the reader connect with their inner child.

“Soup has truly been a project born purely from the heart,” he adds. “I meditate every morning, and the idea for ‘Soup’ came to me one morning. The vision for it was so clear. I went to my iPad and wrote the whole thing within the week.”

Theo '21 in culinary school
Alex Theo ’21 in culinary school.

Making the story ready for publication was a much longer process.

“I’ve gotten to edit it and perfect it as the months go by,” he says. “I’m working with an incredible illustrator out of Spain, who takes my breath away with each illustration she sends me. There are no words with which to properly express the feeling of seeing a vision come to life in such a beautiful way. It is all unfolding more perfectly than I could have ever imagined.”

Theo says that his writing and development progress of “Soup” has been “one of the most joyous, proudest projects of my life thus far.” He is excited to share it with the world as a result.

“I wholeheartedly believe in the story I’ve written,” he says. “I believe it has the power to touch hearts and inspire love, and that is my greatest and only hope for it. If anyone who reads it can close the book feeling just a little lighter, a little more hopeful, then I shall have achieved my goal.”

Theo credits his community — both at and away from Elon — for giving him the strength to pursue his passions. He has felt extreme support from members of the university community, even those who he doesn’t know personally.

“I am constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and the only reason I’m able to do that is because of the immense support I feel from my community,” he said. “I think that’s an experience very unique to our Elon community. And every experience I’ve had since Elon has brought more amazing people into my life, who just joined my community. My support system continues to grow in every chapter, and I am truly so grateful. I consider myself the luckiest.”

Alex Theo ’21

Even with a phenomenal support system, Theo had personal doubts to overcome as well. “I was in the closet for over a decade — surprise, I’m gay,” he says. “Though I’ve now been out and proud for years, unlearning self-hatred and doubt and learning how to radically love myself and my dreams is an ongoing journey.”

Part of this journey to radical self-love includes always challenging himself. “I am constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone, always moving onto the next thing,” he says. “If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Though I have always been and will always be this way, it takes a lot of self-talk to gather the courage to forge ahead into the unknown.”

Looking to the future, Theo is looking forward to continuing the pursuit of his passions. This future includes a “Soup” sequel, a cookbook and a TV show akin to Stanley Tucci’s “Searching for Italy.”

“Above all, I hope to live a long life with joys beyond my wildest dreams,” he says. “I hope to always have my community, and for it to be ever-growing. I hope to always know and give love. Oh, and I hope to one day give the commencement speech at an Elon graduation. I’ll see you there.”