August 18, 2021

Alumni in the News: June/July 2021

CIA Alumni in the News: June/July 2021CIA alumni are always cooking up something interesting, and with a network more than 50,000 strong, there’s never a shortage of highlights! Here are just a few examples of CIA alumni in the news this past month.

Awards and Accolades

Jennifer Jasinski ’89, owner of Rioja, Euclid Hall, and other acclaimed restaurants in Denver, CO, will be inducted into the MenuMasters Hall of Fame in October. The hall of fame recognizes chefs who have spent their careers promoting culinary excellence in American foodservice.
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Michelle McIlroy’s ’06 business, Phantom Chef Catering, was named Greater Binghamton Chamber Business of the Week. McIlroy offers culinary classes and hosts other events at her store in Endicott, NY, and also does customized catering for a variety of events.
Read the article and watch the segment >

Johanne Siy ’12 was named “Chef of the Year” at the World Gourmet Awards, an event that honors the efforts of key players in Singapore’s hospitality industry that deliver the best dining experiences.
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Openings and Chefs on the Move

Elaine Ng ’12, owner of Scones et Beurre in Singapore, was featured in Mothership for her at-home bakery business that delivers traditional scones with non-traditional flavors straight to your door. There are four flavors of scones available: the signatures, nasi lemak and earl grey, and two other flavors that will rotate monthly.
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Chris Stein ’01 will be the chef behind the launch of Soulcial Kitchen, a catering operation, food truck, and food truck park coming to fruition in Illinois. The company’s mission is to make a variety of different foods more accessible in the area.
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Shannon Bates ’98 recently launched her first business as chef-owner, Enna, a globally-inspired deli, in Montpelier, VT. The menu is influence by her childhood and global experiences, with items like buttermilk biscuit breakfast sandwiches, Thai beef salad, and vegetable curry.
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Lanny Lancarte ’02, owner of Righteous Foods and several other restaurant businesses in Fort Worth, TX, is launching his first ghost kitchen, Fantasma Kitchens, in September. The kitchen will host a variety of Tex-Mex concepts for to-go dining.
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Resilience personified. Tida Pichakron ’07, owner of Haute Sweets Patisserie, opened a second location in Dallas, TX, this month. After her business took a hit from COVID-19 last year, her first bakery was destroyed just prior to Thanksgiving, when an SUV leapt the curb and crashed right through the storefront, yet she perseveres.
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Craig Cooper ’91 has been named culinary director at Cornerstone Restaurant Group in Chicago, IL. The new position was featured on Eater Chicago’s list of notable moves in the hospitality industry.
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Sam Hazen ’82 was named culinary director and executive chef of The Highlawn in West Orange, NJ. The successful event space and restaurant, formerly known as The Highlawn Pavilion, is undergoing renovations with new management, and will be reopening in September.
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Julia Casale ’13 was appointed assistant director of food and beverage on the new culinary team at Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street in Boston, MA. She will oversee all food and beverage operations at the hotel, including the new cocktail lounge, banquet operations, and room service.
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Vincent Petronio ’13 was named director of hospitality programs at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, NY, and aspires to help the next generation of chefs reach their academic and professional goals in the hospitality industry.
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Ethan Koelbel ’11 is executive chef of Café Boulud, a new partnership between Blantyre Country Estate and Chef Daniel Boulud, in Lenox, MA. Throughout the year, guests can enjoy specialty dining and cocktail experiences, and the restaurant’s team will also oversee weddings and events on the property.
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Elani Gardner ’14, a graduate of the CIA’s hospitality program, has been named assistant general manager of Bazaar Meat by José Andrés at Sahara Las Vegas. Gardner served as master cook for the restaurant’s grand opening in 2014.
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Eric Huang ’13, former sous chef at Eleven Madison Park, was featured in Esquire for his new business venture—Peking House. The pop-up currently has a waitlist of over 8,000 people and its specialty is Szechuan hot fried chicken, a recipe Huang perfect during the pandemic.
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Throwin’ Down

Austin Sumrall ’12, executive chef-owner at the White Pillars in Biloxi, MS, has been chosen to represent Mississippi in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off. He will compete against 12 chefs from across the country creating a dish that promotes domestic and sustainable seafood.
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Kenyatta Ashford ’09, owner of Neutral Ground in Chattanooga, TN, won Food Network’s Chopped. Chef Ashford prepared spring rolls for his appetizer, West African peanut sauce and rice for the entrée, and rice pudding for the dessert round using the provided mystery ingredients.
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Origin Stories

Oscar Granados ’01, assistant executive chef at Renata’s Hearth in Phoenix, AZ, is recognized for the Latin American flair that he brings to the restaurant’s menu and shares how his classical training at the CIA fueled his passion and inspired him to experiment with global flavors.
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Melissa King ’07, season 12 Top Chef winner, shares how cooking has increased her confidence, helped her find her identity as a queer chef in the industry, and how she fell in love with food growing up.
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Richard Micheli ’94 has taken over his family’s renowned local Italian restaurant, The Portofino Restaurant in Arlington, VA. This article from the National Catholic Register talks about how Micheli has connected his faith to his cooking in order to stay grounded in the kitchen.
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