Adrienne Capps—Nonprofit Executive Changes Career to Pursue Passion


Adrienne Capps, CIA culinary arts

CIA Alumni Bio

“Coming to the CIA was the best decision I ever made. I am grateful both for the education and connections I made through the college.”

What made a former university assistant dean go back to being a college undergrad? With a lifelong passion for hospitality, Adrienne Capps ’15 came to the CIA at Greystone to learn more about food and wine after a 20-year career in nonprofit philanthropy that included raising more than $50 million for a wide variety of organizations coast to coast.

“I was always passionate about food and cooking and can remember fishing and crabbing with my father and making Christmas cookies with my mother,” says Capps, adding that cooking was always a side hobby and as soon as she moved to Northern California from back East, she planted a garden. “But I never wanted to cook for a living. The CIA did a great job of exposing me to other food-related careers.”

Wanting More

With an MBA in Finance from Pace University in New York City already in hand, Capps enrolled at the CIA to pursue an associate degree in culinary arts. Graduating with a 3.68 GPA and a basket full of awards and scholarships, she then went on to learn more about wine, earning Level 1 Certification from The Court of Master Sommeliers.

Learning Leads to Results: Creative Work

As a career changer, Capps has found the perfect job that combines her finance, hospitality, and leadership experience with her food and wine passions. She is currently general manager of Parallel Napa Valley, a boutique winery that produces top quality Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Russian River Chardonnay by renowned winemaker, Philippe Melka. Part of her responsibility is running the day-to-day operations of the winery, including the St. Helena, CA tasting room. She has used her food, wine, and hospitality education from the CIA to develop a sophisticated food pairings menu and takes her company’s wines throughout the country, working with top chefs to create special dinner events showcasing Parallel vintages.

“This is a dream career. I’m doing everything I love,” Capps says. “I wanted to do something entrepreneurial involving both wine and food.”

Developing and Leading with New Technology

Adrienne Capps, CIA culinary arts alumna
“This is a dream career. I’m doing everything I love.”—Adrienne Capps, CIA culinary arts

To that end, she is also a partner at the consulting firm Culinary One Partners. She helped test and market a new technology using extreme pressure-reduced environments. This technology is a completely different approach to both cooling and brining that leverages pressure and temperature for extremely rapid cooling and highly accelerate brine/marinade. This “vacuum technology” from ULVAC could revolutionize high-volume foodservice. Adrienne is leading the development effort, and as a Culinary One executive chef, she is working on a number of new applications for this technology. As ULVAC expands its industry presence, Adrienne is directly working with early customers such as Google, as well as collaborating with CIA faculty and staff.

“Coming to the CIA was the best decision I ever made,” says Capps. “I am grateful both for the education and connections I made through the college.”