Gluten-Free Food Pioneer Delivers CIA Commencement Address
George Chookazian '93
Tells Graduates to Own Their Journey
Hyde Park, NY – George Chookazian, founder of the gluten-free baked goods company
Foods By George, spoke to graduates at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA)
on Friday, May 2. The 1993 graduate of the CIA's baking and pastry arts
certificate program returned to the college's Hyde Park campus, where he advised
86 recipients of associate degrees in baking and pastry arts and culinary arts to ask themselves two key questions as
they set out on their careers.
"You are about to start a journey. Own that journey," said Chookazian.
"Ask yourself, 'What excites you and why? What motivates you and why?' The
answers will help you develop the courage and skills from your mind and your
heart to take what you learned here and extrapolate that into either an
individual business or whatever company you work for."
Chookazian learned about gluten when his wife was diagnosed
with celiac disease—an intolerance to gluten, the protein found in grains like
wheat, rye, and barley. George, a stockbroker at the time, learned how hard it
was to find foods she needed to manage the disease. He created Foods By George
in River Edge, NJ to develop and market gluten-free baking mixes. Wanting to
know more about baking to help him grow his new business, he enrolled at the
CIA, where he was mentored by Professor Richard Coppedge,
a Certified Master Baker and gluten-free baking expert. Chookazian later wrote
the foreword to Chef Coppedge's Gluten-Free
Baking with The Culinary Institute of America (Adams Media, 2008).
Now based in Mahwah, NJ, Foods By George produces pizza,
lasagna, English muffins, brownies, crumb cake, muffins, tarts, and more—all
gluten-free. His thin crust pizza was selected "Best New Food Product" at the
National Products Expo East in 2005. His products are sold in supermarket chains
and specialty stores on the East Coast from Maine to Florida and throughout the
Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image
George Chookazian addresses associate degree graduates at
The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY on May 2, 2014. (Photo credit: Al Nowak/CIA)
View hi-res image >
Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is an independent,
not-for-profit college offering associate and bachelor's degrees with
culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and culinary science, as well
certificate programs in culinary arts and wine and beverage studies.
world's premier culinary college, the CIA provides thought leadership
areas of health & wellness, sustainability, and world cuisines
cultures through research and conferences. The CIA has a network of
alumni that includes industry leaders such as Grant Achatz,
Anthony Bourdain, Roy Choi, Cat Cora, Dan Coudreaut, Steve Ells,
Charlie Palmer, and Roy Yamaguchi. The CIA also offers courses for
professionals and enthusiasts, as well as consulting services in
support of innovation for the foodservice and hospitality industry.
The college has campuses in Hyde Park, NY; St. Helena, CA; San
Antonio, TX; and
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