January 5, 2021

CIA Alumni in the News: Innovating through the Pandemic


CIA Alumni in the News: Innovating through the Pandemic
Despite 2020 being a tough year for the hospitality and restaurant industry, we celebrate our CIA alumni who have been able to innovate and actually launch new businesses. Below are some examples of alumni in the news.

  • The pandemic may have halted alumnus Edouard Massih’s ’16 catering business, but that didn’t stop him. Learn about how he pivoted, opening Edy’s Grocer, a Lebanese grocery store in North Brooklyn.
    Read the TimeOut article >
  • Dean Wirkerman ’08 serves up Mexican meals, inspired by his grandmother, at his new restaurant La Una Cantina in Indianapolis.
    Read the Indianapolis Monthly article >
  • Saltbox Seafood Joint (Ricky Moore ’94), in Durham, NC, is a business that is thriving during the pandemic. Moore has done several recent interviews about his recipe for success, and also was awarded $25,000 from Discover Card as part of the company’s Pay It Forward campaign that supports Black-owned restaurants.
    Read the Chapelboro.com article >
    Read the Authority Magazine article >
    Read the Eater Carolinas article >
  • In this article, Nina Compton ’01 highlights the challenges and triumphs she’s faced throughout her career.
    Read the New Yorker article >
  • July 2020 San Antonio graduate Tess Wofford opened OSO Sweet Shop in Chadds Ford Township, PA.
    Read the Chadds Ford Live article >
  • Article on Drew Van Leuvan’s ’00 Seven Lamps restaurant in Atlanta leads with: “A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Drew Van Leuvan apprenticed under such renowned chefs as Gunter Seeger, Wylie Dufresne, and Joel Antunes, and has served as executive chef at some of Atlanta’s best-known restaurants.”
    Read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article >
  • Justin Tootla ’09 and Jennifer Jackson ’08, who met at the CIA, opened not one, but two restaurants during the pandemic.
    Read the model D article >
  • John McConnell ’99 opened a restaurant—aptly named Mise en Place—in March. The article begins with this: “If at first, you don’t succeed, try again. If you succeed and happen to do so in the face of a pandemic, you’re probably doing all right.”
    Read the Times-News article >
  • Nate Kuester ’14 is trading fine dining for counter service with the opening of BapBap, a Korean take-out spot, located within Flushing’s (Queens, NY) New Age Market. The chef, who has worked at Daniel, J.J. Johnson’s Cecil, and Aquavit, co-founded BapBap with former Aquavit service director, Jason Lui.
    Read the Eater New York article >
  • Alum Chaya Conrad ’93 has opened her own bakery, restaurant, and cafe, Bywater Bakery in New Orleans, LA. The article credits Conrad with inventing the Chantilly cake, noting “Conrad that “…if you’ve bought one of those desserts in the past 15 years, you most likely have tasted her talent.”
    Read the myNewOrleans.com article >
  • Andres Kaifer ’08 was appointed culinary director for Mac’s Hospitality Group in Charlotte, NC.
    Read the WBOC article >
  • San Antonio graduate Adán Medrano ’10 traces the indigenous roots of Mexican food in Texas in his new film.
    Read the San Antonio Express-News article >
  • Nantucket’s Dune restaurant “has never missed a beat” in the wake of the pandemic. Chef Michael Getter ’89 is a CIA graduate, as is his chef de cuisine Joseph Ranstatler ’03.
    Read the Yesterday’s Island article >
  • CIA Singapore alumni Chong Jun Xiang, Daniel Gan, and Martin Tan opened Lemak Boys, a Peranakan nasi lemak restaurant on September 12.
    Read the 8 Days article >
  • Daniel and Brittany Moreno, both 2012 Bachelor’s program graduates, met while attending the CIA. They recently opened Kneads Bakery Café in Westport, CT. The restaurant uses 100% whole grain organic flour from local and regional farms and sources most of its ingredients locally. Following are two articles highlighting their journey, which includes stints at acclaimed restaurants, Gramercy Tavern, Daniel, L’Abeille at the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
    Read the Daily Voice article >
    Read the CTbites article >
  • Jennifer Shaffer ’94, who—with her husband Robert ’94—owns Deano’s restaurant in Dublin, GA, spoke with WABE radio about the couple’s determination to “stick it out,” despite the pandemic.
    Read the WABE article >
  • Profile of Kenyatta Ashford ’09, showcases his new Chattanooga, TN restaurant, Neutral Ground, his “4 Courses and” supper club, and his decision, at age 27, to leave his teaching job and move his family to Hyde Park, NY so he could attend CIA. Ashford also received the Jean-Louis Palladin Professional Work Study Grant from the James Beard Foundation, which he used to travel to Ghana and Benin to study the cuisines of West Africa and their influence on the African diaspora.
    Read the Cuisine Noir article >