May 30, 2024

Alumni in the News March 2024

Alumni in the News March 2024

Openings, Events, and New Beginnings

Inc. Australia reported that Chipotle’s founder, Steve Ells ’90, plans to open an innovative robotic, plant-based fast-food restaurant. Through this restaurant, he hopes to tackle problems previously faced at Chipotle, while once again revolutionizing the industry.
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Total Food Service covered Kwame Onwuachi’s ’13 new restaurant at the Salamander hotel in Washington, DC. Onwuachi will open Dōgon this Spring. He has previously worked with Salamander for his annual Family Reunion event.
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Kwame Onwuachi’s ’13 fourth Family Reunion was announced. The annual event at Salamander Middleburg in Virginia’s wine country will bring together some of the industry’s top talent.
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James Beard award-winning chef, Iliana de la Vega, is passing the torch to her daughter, Ana Torrealba ’11. De la Vega announced Torrealba’s new role as chef de cuisine at El Naranjo, her acclaimed Oaxacan cuisine restaurant in Austin, TX.
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James Trees ’01 opened a new Esther’s Kitchen location in Las Vegas, NV. According to Las Vegas Weekly, the new Esther’s location greatly expands on the previous one and is roughly five times larger. There are also numerous upgrades in the kitchen.
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In a press release, Realm Restaurant Group announced the promotion of two talented chefs, including Vinnie Savadel ’05.
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Goodnight Hospitality announced Vannessa Scott-Allen ’10 will be the new director of operations. The Houston, TX, company hired Scott-Allen after her decades of experience in high-end restaurants.
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NBC Montana covered the opening of a new Posh Chocolat factory by Ana Willenbrock ’00 and Jason Willenbrock ’01 The couple met while at CIA. Their new business is located in Bonner, MT. They opened the original Posh Chocolat 19 years ago.
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Robbie Jester ’06 presented a cooking demo at the University of Delaware’s Amplify Leadership Conference. Jester’s cooking demonstration was a popular part of the conference that featured presentations and workshops for students.
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In a press release, it was announced Chris Miller ’99 will join Rival Bros. Coffee in Philadelphia as senior vice president of coffee. Miller “honed his skills at renowned Philadelphia coffee institution La Colombe.”
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Larry Forgione ’74 is among the all-star roster of guest chefs sailing for Windstar Cruises. This special series is taking place in honor of Windstar’s 10-year relationship with the James Beard Foundation.
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Profiles and Interviews

New Jersey Monthly profiled Adam Weiss ’97. Weiss runs F1RST Restaurant in Hawthorne, NJ. He spoke about his career and the delicious flavors at F1RST.
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Paul Fitzpatrick ’03 profiled for making every day St. Patrick’s Day at Buckley’s Inn Between. The Irish pub in Hampton Bays, NY, was profiled for both its traditional Irish staples and innovative dishes that combine Irish flavors with international inspiration.
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Molly Brandt ’06 was interviewed on the Eat. Drink. Cruise. podcast. On the podcast, which covers food and beverage on cruise ships, Brandt discussed her chef-driven concept and current work with airline catering.
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The Brooklyn Daily Eagle profiled Chef Silvia Garcia ’18. Garcia leads the kitchen at Park Slope’s Bar Vinazo. Born in Spain and raised in Brooklyn, she applied to CIA without her parents knowing.
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Vogue Singapore toured the Italian-inspired home of Sun Hee “Sunny” Han ’12. Han, who is the creative director of co-working space provider, The Work Project, is passionate about Italian food, which inspired her beautiful Singapore home.
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Maneet Chauhan ’00 was interviewed by Nashville Lifestyles as one of Nashville’s inspiring women. The article discussed her successful career and listed Chauhan’s Augie Award, which she received as an honoree at the 2022 CIA Leadership Awards among her achievements.
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Michael Mina’s ’89 Orla profiled as “Restaurant of the Week” by Elite Traveler. Chef Mina opened Orla at Mandalay Bay earlier this year.
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Restaurant Hospitality profiled Mike Friedman’s ’07 two new restaurants. Friedman, a James Beard semifinalist, debuted two new restaurants, Aventino Cucina and AP Pizza, in Bethesda, MD.
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Forbes profiled Richard Sandoval ’91, sharing how he started as a tennis pro before switching careers and eventually having 65 restaurants around the world.
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The Winston-Salem Journal shared Mike Harkenreader’s ’01 story. Harkenreader is the chef of Homestead Kitchen in Reidsville, NC, which he runs with his wife, Stephanie.
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The Archive Project shared a discussion led by Gregory Gourdet ’00 about cookbook writing. The conversation originally took place at the 2023 Portland Book Festival.
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El Paso Times declared the food at Andres Pablos’s’16 Accá to be top-notch comfort food. Pablos opened the restaurant in El Paso, TX, seven months prior.
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Deidre Lotecki’s ’08 Biscettes Cookie Co. was profiled by Kirkland Lake Northern News. Lotecki’s new bakery in Calgary is part of an expansion of her other successful business, Sweet Relief. Biscettes features a line of cookies unique to the new location.
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Awards and Accolades

The Detroit Free Press named Jordan Smith’s ’14 Coeur as Detroit’s top restaurant. Taking a hospitality-focused approach, Coeur creates a dining and working environment unlike any other paired with delicious food and wine, earning it Detroit’s best.
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The Detroit Free Press named Aaron Cozadd’s ’02, Vigilante Kitchen and Bar to its “Top 10 New Restaurants & Dining Experiences” list. Chef Cozadd was also named Chef of the Year 2024 for efforts at his restaurant, Vigilante Kitchen, to support industry workers battling addiction.
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Dothan, AL, news covered Kelsey Bernard Clark’s ’11 James Beard Awardnomination. The Top Chef winner was among the semi-finalists for Best Chef: South for the 2024 James Beard Awards.
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Major Food Group, co-founded by Rich Torrisi ’00 and Mario Carbone ’00, was named to GQ’s list of the “20 Most Creative Companies in the World.” The article celebrates MFG’s ambition, and desire to always go big.
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The Heat of Competition

Laura Ozyilmaz ’14, a James Beard Semi-Finalist, who met husband Sayat Ozyilmaz ’15 at CIA, is competing in season 21 of Top Chef which began airing March 21.
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Kaleena Bliss ’07 is a competitor on season 21 of Top Chef. She discussed with Seattle Magazine the highlights and obstacles she’s had to overcome during her career.
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Chefs on Streaming

Chefs Uncut premiered on Netflix Southeast Asia featuring Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn ’12 and Chef Pichaya “Pam” Soontornyanakij ’13. This series highlights one influential chef per episode discussing their culinary journeys.
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