Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

Acclaimed Israeli-Born New Orleans Chef Delivers CIA Commencement Address

Alon Shaya Tells Graduates at his Alma Mater to Remember their Roots

Hyde Park, NY – Two-time James Beard Award-winning Chef Alon Shaya returned to his alma mater on October 18 to speak to graduates at the New York campus of The Culinary Institute of America. The Israeli-born and Philadelphia-raised Shaya has been nominated for five Beard Awards, winning Best Chef: South in 2015 and Best New Restaurant in 2016, with his eponymous Shaya in New Orleans.

The 1999 CIA graduate is the founder, along with his wife Emily, of Pomegranate Hospitality. The restaurant group was created to foster opportunities in an environment that celebrates cultural differences. Pomegranate Hospitality’s restaurants are Saba in New Orleans and Safta in Denver. Saba and Safta mean grandfather and grandmother in Hebrew.

“You are about to embark on this journey to find who you are,” said Chef Shaya, who pursued a career specializing in Italian cuisine before embracing his own roots. “As chefs and as cooks, you will use food to help you find who you are. Remember who you are and remember where you come from, because that’s what makes you unique.”

The author of Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel has been named one of “50 People Who are Changing the South” by Southern Living magazine and one of the “50 Most Influential Jews in America” by The Forward.

An active philanthropist, Chef Shaya joined with his high school home economics teacher Donna Barnett to create the Shaya Barnett Foundation, committed to providing culinary education and resources to high school students. He has also been a supporter of No Kid Hungry, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, and DC Central Kitchen/Martha’s Table.

The entire CIA commencement ceremony, including Alon Shaya’s address to recipients of associate degrees in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry Arts, can be seen online.

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image:

Alon Shaya ’99 delivers the keynote address at commencement ceremonies at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY on October 18, 2019. (Photo credit: CIA/Phil Mansfield)
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Media Contact:

Jeff Levine
Communications Writer

About The Culinary Institute of America:

Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is the world’s premier culinary college. Dedicated to developing leaders in foodservice and hospitality, the independent, not-for-profit CIA offers master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees with majors in culinary arts, baking & pastry arts, food business management, hospitality management, culinary science, and applied food studies. The college also offers executive education, certificate programs, and courses for professionals and enthusiasts. Its conferences, leadership initiatives, and consulting services have made the CIA the think tank of the food industry and its worldwide network of more than 50,000 alumni includes innovators in every area of the food world. The CIA has locations in New York, California, Texas, and Singapore.

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