Anthony Arbeeny had a strong sense of déjà vu when he arrived at The Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park campus. “On my very first day, we were given a tour of the facilities,” he recalled. “When I looked out from the Escoffier kitchen through the glass partition to the dining room, I suddenly had a strong feeling I’d been there before. Then I remembered I had toured the school with my parents when I was a youngster!”
In Brooklyn, where Anthony grew up, his extended family owned a local bakery. “I was always around food so I began cooking at an early age,” he says. While in high school, Anthony landed a summer job at a camp on Shelter Island, NY. “The chef kept telling me how great it was to be a chef,” he explained. “At the time, I was attending Brooklyn Technical High School with every intention of pursing a degree in electronic engineering.” But the chef persevered, provided Anthony with a contact at the CIA and helping him apply. “I got accepted and arrived on campus in 1983. I saw hundreds of chefs walking proudly in their uniforms,” he remembers. “Looking at the sheer numbers of people who were dedicated to the foodservice profession gave me the confidence to engage in every class and take advantage of all the CIA had to offer.”
Anthony externed at the famous Plaza Hotel in New York City. “Working in a hotel really piqued my interest in that area of the industry,” Anthony recalls. “Having multiple restaurants and banquet facilities in one place exposes you to so much diversity and requires organizational skills and finesse in dealing with both guests and staff.” Returning to campus, Anthony was asked to be on the CIA’s 1984 International Culinary Olympics team, which went on to win a silver medal. In 1985, Anthony won a spot to cook at the Sixth Annual International Sebastian Kneipp Nutritional Cooking Competition in Germany with then chef-instructor Mark Erickson ’77 and CIA Heritage Professor Fritz Sonnerschmidt. He would go on to compete again in the 1988 International Culinary Olympics as a silver medalist and at the American Culinary Federation Food Show winning gold medals in 1990 and 1991.
It was Mark Erickson, now Provost at the CIA, who recommended Anthony for his first position within the Hyatt Hotels organization, working under mentor Chef Rene Mettler. “At my first three Hyatt Hotels, I was part of a team responsible for 19 restaurants,” he explained. “I learned a great deal during this time and went on to help open restaurants in other Hyatts.” Anthony would remain with Hyatt for 29 years rising through the ranks of hotel operations from executive chef to food and beverage director to general manager—one of only a dozen chefs to attain a top leadership role.
“My time spent at the CIA and participating in competitions taught me the importance of organizational skills, communication, being efficient and professional, and multitasking. It gave me a solid foundation on which to build my career,” Anthony says. “Students should take advantage of every opportunity the school has to offer. It has the most progressive chefs and better resources than any other culinary school. There is so much going on outside of the classroom above and beyond the curriculum. The knowledge is there for the taking. Your CIA education will always guide you and always be a part of you.”