October 14, 2021

Alumni in the News: September 2021

CIA Alumni in the News: September 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

The husband and wife team behind The Baker and The Cakemaker, are being honored at Auburns State of the Community Awards for being Friends of Agriculture. Nathan and Alice Shreve’s ’02, artisan bakery and café features produce from local farms as much as possible.
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Alabama-based media outlet YellowHammer News named one of its 2021 Women of Impact, Kelsey Barnard Clark ’11. Barnard Clark was recognized for her accomplishments, including being a chef, wife, mother, business owner, and cookbook author, and for changing what success in the food industry looks like for women.
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Wailua Shaved Ice in Kauai, HI, co-owned by Brandon Baptiste ’09, was featured as one of the best places to get shave ice in Hawaii. They have been recognized for their gourmet spins on the traditional treat.
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Openings and Chefs on the Move

Michael Deltette ’97 has been appointed director of social events for the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, DC. Deltette brings more than 20 years of event management and hospitality experience in luxury hotels. He previously served as director of guest experience and quality assurance at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.
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Amanda Freitag ’89, chef and judge on Food Network’s Chopped, is named a must-follow chef on Instagram for her regular posting of fun and inventive recipes by the blog “Love By Life.” She’s mentioned as really knowing her stuff because she’s a CIA grad.
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Tra Coffey ’09 opened The Perch at Scissortail Park in Oklahoma City, OK, where he will serve wraps, sandwiches, salads, kid’s menu items, ice cream, and beverages that promote health and wellness. The Perch is the first of many eateries set to open at Scissortail Park after plans were put on hold due to the pandemic.
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Greg Ryan ’14, is on a mission to prove that the Santa Ynez Valley actually does love seafood. When opening his first French style bistro in Los Alamos, CA in 2018, he was warned that locals were a meat-centric folk. He and his wife, the restaurant’s chef, quickly learned that was untrue, and after a summer of successful Los Angeles, CA pop-ups, they opened Bar Le Côte, a modern seafood tavern in Los Olivos.
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Bryan McMahon ’07, is the new executive chef of Hawaii’s only Relais and Chateaux property—The Hotel Wailea. This new post is his first as a restaurant’s or hotel’s top chef. McMahon joined the Hotel Wailea in June, after spending the last three years as an executive sous-chef at Spago Maui at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.
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While attending the CIA, Chef Mark Fredette ’10 became enthralled with the Hudson Valley farm-to-table movement. After the success of his Clermont Café, he opened Iron and Grass in late August 2021. Iron and Grass features beef from local farms in Germantown, NY, duck from the Catskills, and more.
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Eric LeVine ’90 is set to open Vico, a new Italian restaurant focused on authentic cuisine from the Amalfi Coast, in Farmingdale, NY in early 2022. LeVine will use ingredients that are local and imported from Italy in his menu of meter-long pizzas, small plates, fresh pastas, meat, and fish.
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Jacob Linzey ’09, founder, and president of new restaurant group Violet Hospitality is revamping and remodeling all his restaurants in St. Petersburg, FL. Violet Hospitality oversees Annata Restaurant & Wine Bar, Alto Mare Fish Bar, and 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House. He plans to incorporate small plates, charcuterie, and seafood additions into these different restaurants.
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Chef Anthony Marini ’00, winner of CNBC’s Restaurant Startup, is bringing a speakeasy-style dining experience to downtown Charleston, SC, with The Pass. The sandwich shop by day turns into an intimate dining experience at night. The restaurant accepts just one reservation per night, welcoming six–ten guests for a multi-course tasting.
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Farmer Focus, a 100% organic and humane-certified chicken company, has promoted Sean McLendon ’92 to lead research and development. McLendon brings more than 25 years of experience in product research, creativity, and quality control. Before entering this new role, he led the development of Farmer Focus’ inaugural organic pre-seasoned product line.
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Victor Guera ’13 and Andrea Pardo ’15, award winning Columbian chefs re-open their kitchen doors with Mr. Romano, a new pizzeria in Bogota, Columbia. Before moving to Columbia, they worked in renowned restaurants such as Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, The French Laundry, Saison, and Benu. Mr. Romano will focus on signature pizzas. The couple’s top priority is to use Columbian products—80% of their ingredients already coming from the region.
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After a burst water pipe shuttered Brian Held’s ’95 fine-dining spot in Stockton, NJ, he decided he wanted to change gears. With the announcement of Gabarelly’s, Held is planning a new 50’s style eatery, where Philly cheesesteaks and french fries will be king.
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Real-estate investments and hospitality management company, Highgate, has appointed Arash Azarbarzin ’89 as chief executive officer. Azbarzin brings over 30 years of hotel leadership experience with world luxury brands.
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Darren Weiss ’96 is featured in Eater LA for the opening of his new restaurant, Fox and Farrow, in Los Angeles, CA. Fox and Farrow is an English hunting lodge-inspired gastropub with a fusion of Asian, Pacific, and British cuisine. The article mentions that Weiss has had to work to overcome the challenge of being a deaf chef, and his success in the industry proves his talent.
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Giving Back

Founder of Honeycomb Bread Bakers Benjamin Vickers ’14 shares his business’s commitment to customer satisfaction and talks about the positive impact he wants to make in Winter Haven, FL.
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Watch the segment >

Throwin’ Down

Steven Sechoka ’09 is one of 10 bakers competing on the Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship, which premiered September 13.
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Gabriella O’Neil ’19 is competing in this year’s Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs competition. O’Neil is the only American chef selected to represent the U.S. in this year’s competition, a privilege she earned by winning regional and national competitions earlier this year.
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Origin Stories

Sandy Leibowitz ’03 was highlighted by Good Housekeeping magazine as part of their “The Power of Us” series. The article primarily focused on how the chefs honor Hispanic and Latinx holiday traditions; however, Leibowitz, who is of Colombian, Argentinean, and Jewish descent, shed some light on her favorite holiday celebrations, including Rosh Hashanah, Passover, and Hanukkah.
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Chris Pappas ’14, chef and owner, of Meraki Hospitality Group, credits his Greek father Angelo, for his passion for the restaurant business. After growing up in his father’s and uncle’s restaurant, Pappas knew he wanted to go into the family business. He took over the family restaurant, after graduating from the CIA, and expanded the menu into Latin American, Spanish, and Asian Cuisine.
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Assistant Professor of Baking and Pastry Arts, Chef Lilla Bernal ’99 was a featured guest contributor to the San Antonio Report’s, “Where I Work” column. Chef Bernal describes working at the CIA as a dream, like taking the most talented and most invested “restaurant people” and bring them all together in one place. As she speaks to teaching the next generation of chefs, she reflects what got her to this point in her career.
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Dave Query ’85 discusses how the pandemic has changed restaurant real estate as his Big Red F Restaurant Group opens its 15th and 16th locations. The article discusses his decision to attend the CIA at 28 years of age and the successes and challenges he’s faced along the way.
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On the Shelf and On the Menu

2019 Top Chef winner and alumnus Kelsey Barnard Clark ’11 sits down to talk about how her southern roots have inspired her new cookbook Southern Grit: 100+ Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Cook. Clark says she carries her southern upbringing and the strategy she learned in her culinary training are at the heart of her philosophy for daily living.
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Changing the Narrative

Master Sommelier Kyungmoon Kim ’05 wants the world to fall in love with the national spirit, soju, a Korean rice wine. Upon returning to Korea a few years ago he saw a renaissance in soju, due to the government lifting its ban on rice distilling. Currently, Kim is working with small-scale producers to find a market in the United States, where he thinks it has the potential to become a substitute for vodka and gin.
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When the pandemic first started, Rachel Caygill ’14, was unsure if Green House Bakery, which was run from her home in East Oakland, CA, could continue. When a few regulars reached out to request boxes of goodies, she realized that people were still interested. Now, there is a line outside her garage each day, clamoring to purchase her baked goods before they sell out.
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Talking Technique

Aaron Bludorn ’06, former executive chef at Café Boulud and current chef-owner of Bludorn in Houston, TX, talks about techniques he is using in his new restaurant and his homemade hot sauce in an interview with The Buzz Magazines.
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