Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

Hotel Exec Returns to Alma Mater to Deliver CIA Commencement Keynote

Hyde Park, NY – Arash Azarbarzin, president of SH Hotels & Resorts, spoke to graduates at the New York campus of The Culinary Institute of America on February 14. The 1989 CIA graduate reminded the newest alumni of his alma mater that, as with his career trajectory, their options in the food world go beyond being a chef.

“The core principles that I learned started here,” Mr. Azarbarzin told recipients of CIA associate degrees in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry Arts. “Don’t go into this with the idea that you have to be a chef. If you want to be a chef, great. But what you learned here will make you a better hospitality person. Restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, catering operations—the sky is the limit. We are in the business of fun. We’re in the business of making people happy.”

Mr. Azarbarzin has been in hotel management since graduating from the CIA, including leadership roles at W Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis, and Four Seasons. He was also one of the founders of sbe Hotel Group and served as its president for 12 years. In his current role, he manages a staff of 3,000 and oversees all operations and expansion for the international SH Hotels & Resorts, including the 1 Hotels, Baccarat Hotel, and Treehouse Hotels brands.

Watch the entire CIA commencement ceremony online, including Arash Azarbarzin’s keynote address.

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image:

Commencement speaker Arash Azarbarzin ’89, president of SH Hotels & Resorts, enjoying a moment with graduates of The Culinary Institute of America at the college’s New York campus on February 14, 2020. (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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