Chef Adam Altnether ’07, The Fast Track to Success
CIA Alumni Bio
Adam was first exposed to the art of cooking at the age of 15, watching his father and stepmother preparing family meals at home. During his junior year in high school, he signed up for a program that allowed him to spend a month at The Culinary Institute of America, and he fell in love with the college. He obsessed about the place all through his senior year, and knew that’s where he had to go. It was worth the wait. “I think The Culinary Institute of America’s emphasis on work ethic and strong fundamentals definitely helped me excel at every position I’ve ever held,” he says. “The level of education solidified in my mind how important the bachelor’s program at the CIA has been for me.”
Craft Restaurant Group
Important indeed. After graduation, Adam landed his first job as a prep cook at Niche, one of the properties in the Craft Restaurant Group. He quickly rose through the ranks at Craft, becoming Niche’s chef de cuisine by age 22, and then executive chef at Brasserie. He spearheaded the expansion of Pastaria, the group’s Italian restaurant, and shared responsibilities as executive chef and owner of the entire dining empire with his mentor, Gerard Craft.
“Working your hardest, day in and day out, is what allows you to accomplish every goal you set for yourself.” Adam is quick to credit his colleagues at Craft as well. “You can never do something like this alone,” he explains. “All of these accomplishments are a direct result of building great teams, and we have been lucky enough to build amazing teams so far.” And he’s ever-grateful for the amazing education he received from the CIA. “It definitely laid the groundwork in my mind to allow us to be able to expand in the way we have done.”
Taking a Step towards the Future
In March 2015, after nearly eight years, Adam made the difficult decision to step away from the Craft Restaurant Group and is not longer a shareholder. Gerard Craft said of his parting, “Adam has been a valued member of the team for many years, and we are proud of the work that we were able to accomplish together. We’re excited to see what’s next for him.”
Adam took a job with the St. Louis Cardinals cooking for the players and became a personal chef for one of them. He loved the job but was open to returning to restaurants. That happened when he partnered with former Niche general manager Chris Kelling to open Elmwood. The live-fire restaurant features a partially open kitchen, a charcoal-burning grill, and the only charcoal-fueled oven in the U.S. “A big thing for us is that there is no pretense,” explains Adam. “We just want people to come in, have a great time, laugh, and smile. That’s all we want to see.” With a winning combination, Adam is set up for even more success.
Chef Adam Altnether majored in culinary arts management at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He is executive chef and co-owner of Elmwood in Maplewood, MO.