June 3, 2024

Alumni in the News April 2024

Alumni in the News April 2024

Interviews and Profiles

Forbes interviewed Nina Compton ’01 about opening a new Compère Lapin location at the Four Seasons in Miami.
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Varun Totlani ’15 was profiled as one of four Mumbai-based chefs redefining Indian food. Totlani leads the kitchen at Masque, an upscale, ingredient-first restaurant in a former textile mill in South Mumbai.
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Celebrations and Special Events

Aref Zalatimo ’16 took over the Hewing Hotel Restaurant’s menu April 10 and 11 to celebrate Eid. The Minneapolis restaurant menu takeover was inspired, in part, by the food Zalatimo grew up eating with his family.
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Wilo Benet ’85 will take part in the San Juan Guest Chef Series from Sea Cloud Cruises. The journey was scheduled to go from Philipsburg, St. Maarten, to San Juan from January 4–10, 2025, and to feature a special Three Kings Dinner January 6.
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Roy Choi ’98 spoke to Cal State Fullerton’s class of 2024. Choi graduated from CSUF in 1994 before attending CIA. In addition to speaking at commencement, he received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.
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A press release announced David Perini ’09 was promoted to culinary director of tourist destination Peddler’s Village in Lahaska, PA. The property cited his management skills and commitment to guest satisfaction as reasons for promoting him to this new role.
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Openings and New Beginnings

In a press release, it was announced that Rachel Merriam ’13 opened Fulton & Forbes Wine and Spirits Store in Ancram, NY. Merriam was previously wine director and sommelier for Casa Mono & Bar Jamon and for a winery in the Hudson Valley.
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Joe Criscuolo ’99 opened Luca’s Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen, named after his father, in Greenwich, CT.
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Craig Polignano ’02 was profiled for bringing farm-to-table to Juniper Hill Restaurant, in Clifton, NJ. Polignano, who has been executive chef at Juniper Hill for a year, uses fresh ingredients from Hunterdon County, NJ farms.
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Yash Kishinchand ’22 joined James Beard Nominee Sujan Sarkar to open a new Indian cafe in Chicago’s West Loop. Swadesi Cafe brings Indian flavors like chai and butter chicken to the Chicago coffee shop scene.
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St. Louis Magazine covered the opening of Kim’s Bop Shop by Nicole ’16 and Sean Kim ’16. Kim’s Bop Shop currently operates as a ghost kitchen out of The Hill Food Co. in St. Louis, MO.
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Bret Lunsford ’13 launched a new spring menu at Sally’s Apizza. Lunsford recently joined the New Haven, CT, pizzeria as director of culinary and executive chef and had been updating the menu since.
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Making a Difference

Matthew ’98 and Tia Raiford ’98 spoke to ABC News about regenerative agriculture. The couple, who met at CIA, spoke about their work at Gilliard Farms, which has been in the Raiford family for six generations.
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The Heat of Competition

Maneet Chauhan ’00 bested Britt Rescigno ’09 on Tournament of Champions, going on to win the championship for the second time. This is also the second time Chauhan has bested Rescigno in the final four of the Food Network competition show.
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Accolades and Making the List

Nichole Hensen’s ’97 bakery in downtown Fargo, Nichole’s Fine Pastry, was named among unique North Dakota culinary locations.
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Forbes delivered praise for Juan Jose Cuevas’s ’95 Mararbar by 1919. Cuevas is the executive chef of the champagne and caviar bar in the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in San Juan.
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Jennifer Yee ’12 was named a “Rising Star Baker” by Starchefs. Yee worked at many acclaimed establishments before opening her own vegan bakery, Baker’s Bench, in Los Angeles, CA.
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Mac Daniel Dimla ’16 was featured by Starchefs as a “Rising Star Pastry Chef.” He is the pastry chef at Providence in Los Angeles, CA.
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Mike Friedman’s ’07 Aventino was among the restaurants credited with creating a thriving dining scene in Montgomery County, MD. The article called the Roman-Jewish inspired Italian restaurant a “smash hit.”
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James Beard Awards

Multiple CIA alumni were named James Beard Awards finalists including:
For Outstanding Restaurant:

  • The Compound, Santa Fe, NM Mark Kiffin ’82, chef/owner
  • Mixtli, San Antonio, TX Diego Galicia ’10, chef/owner

Emerging Chef:

  • Fariyal Abdullahi ’14, Hav & Mar, New York City

Best New Restaurant:

  • Chez Noir, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA Jonny Black ’07, executive chef/co-owner

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program:

  • Waxlight Bar à Vin, Buffalo, NY, Edward Forster ’03, chef/co-owner

Best Chef: California:

  • Geoff Davis’09, Burdell, Oakland, CA
  • Lord Maynard Llera’06, Kuya Lord, Los Angeles, CA

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA):

  • Tony Conte’92, Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana, Darnestown, MD
  • Harley Peet ’02, Bas Rouge, Easton, MD

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT):

  • Conor Dennehy ’05, Talulla, Cambridge, MA

Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific (AK, HI, OR, WA):

  • Gregory Gourdet’00, kann, Portland, OR

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV):

  • Rod Lassiter and Parnass Savang ’11, Talat Market, Atlanta, GA
  • Paul Smith ’02, 1010 Bridge, Charleston, WV

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR):

  • Hunter Evans ’14, Elvie’s, Jackson, MS

Best Chef: Texas:

  • Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel’08, Birdie’s, Austin, TX
  • Ana Liz Pulido’19, Ana Liz Taqueria, Mission, TX

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviewed Parnass Savang ’11 and his business partner, Rod Lassiter of Talat Market about being named James Beard Award finalists, their success, and their Gaaeng Dang Goong recipe.
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Hunter Evans ’14 spoke on being named a James Beard Award finalist. Evans, chef/owner of Elvie’s in Jackson, MS, was interviewed about his experience running a restaurant during the pandemic and his journey to his nomination.
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Conor Dennehy ’05 made the news for his James Beard Award Finalist nomination. Dennehy, part owner of Talulla, in Cambridge, MA, was nominated for the first time for Best Chef: Northeast.
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Fariyal Abdullahi ’14 was profiled among other Black 2024 James Beard Awards finalists. Abdullahi is nominated in the Emerging Chef category.
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