HomeCIA Alumni NetworkNew York CommencementCalifornia CommencementTexas CommencementSpeaker Bios
Kelsey Barnard Clark is a born-and-raised Gulf Southerner from Dothan, AL. She has developed an impressive résumé, including being the fifth woman and first Southerner to win the title of Bravo’s Top Chef, She was also voted “fan favorite” following her Season 16 win.
Kelsey got her start in the food industry working for a high-end caterer and catered her first solo wedding at age 15. After graduating from The Culinary Institute of America, she worked savory and pastry in several Michelin-starred restaurants in New York City, including Café Boulud under Gavin Kaysen, and Dovetail, under John Fraser. Her signature Southern-French cuisine is inspired by family recipes and classic French techniques.
In 2012. Kelsey moved back home to open her catering company, Kelsey Barnard Catering. Today, she runs her catering company and restaurant, KBC, in historic downtown Dothan, while also teaching virtual classes, taking her chef talents on the road, and appearing and cooking at events as often as possible.
Her book, Southern Grit: 100+ Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Cook, was released last August. She also has a new restaurant concept in the works. She lives in Dothan with her husband, Deavours, and two children, Monroe and Evelyn June. Kelsey and her family enjoy tending to their backyard garden and chicken coop and crabbing and boating from their beach bungalow on the weekends. Kelsey shares her passion for cooking, teaching, and hospitality on her Instagram @kelseybarnardclark.
Matt is a director in Citi’s Banking, Capital Markets, and Advisory practice within its Institutional Clients Group. Matt is responsible for originating, advising on and executing equity, debt and M&A transactions across the restaurant and restaurant technology sectors and has advised and led transactions for some of the most well received growth stories across the global restaurant landscape.
Matt joined Citi in 2013, after earning his MBA at Columbia Business School. Prior to enrolling at CBS, he worked for VINTUS, a boutique wine importer in New York focused on family-run wineries around the world.
Matt received his BA in Political Science and English Literature from Columbia University in 2007, graduating magna cum laude, and his AOS in Culinary Arts from The Culinary Institute of America in 2003. At the CIA, he did his externship at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, and while at Columbia, completed internships at Food Arts magazine and Wine & Spirits magazine.
Duskie Estes is executive director of Farm-to-Pantry, an organization dedicated to rescuing fresh, healthy produce that would otherwise go to waste and getting it to people in need. In this role, she leads sourcing from 500 properties and farms in Sonoma County with a team of more than 400 volunteers.
In 2021, Farm to Pantry rescued more than 350,000 pounds of produce for marginalized families. Duskie and her husband, John Stewart, own Black Pig Meat Co., making amazing brown sugar dry-cured bacon and snout-to-tail products—including candies, soap, and lip balm—from pasture-raised pigs. They also operate a food truck, The Black Piglet.
For 19 years, they were chef-owners of Zazu Kitchen + Farm in Sonoma County until a flood destroyed their restaurant in 2019. At Zazu, they were dedicated to ethical sourcing by purchasing direct from over 200 farmers, ranchers, and makers. They received numerous accolades, including: the Slow Food Snail Awards, Good Food Awards; Grand Cochon’s King+Queen of Pork; Star Chefs’ Sustainability Award; Top 50 Restaurants in the Bay Area; James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Seattle, and more. Zazu was also listed in the San Francisco Michelin Guide for more than a decade.
On their farm, they raise pigs, goats, sheep, ducks, and chickens. Duskie is also known for numerous appearances on Food Network, PBS, OWN, and Discovery (including Next Iron Chef, Guy’s Grocery Games, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy’s Ranch Kitchen, Burger Truck Brawl, Guy Hawaiian Style, and more). She is also a proud founding board member of BAR-C, Bay Area Ranchers Cooperative. This May, she, along with 250 other chefs, will cycle 200 miles to raise $2 million for No Kid Hungry with Chefs Cycle.
Founder of River Whey Creamery, Susan Rigg, had a passion for cooking that grew while working in the book retail business for 15 years. In 2007, she hung up her book-selling shoes and took a leap of faith into the professional world of culinary arts by enrolling in the baking and pastry certificate program at The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio. She then earned her associate degree in culinary arts at the CIA’s New York campus, graduating in 2010.
Following graduation, she returned to San Antonio, where she served as president of the South Texas chapter of Slow Food, where she and a team of culinary experts raised money for school garden programs. While at Slow Food, she planned fundraising dinners and events, wrote school curriculum for the gardens, and taught elementary school students about food sources—reaching about 400 students per week.
In 2014, Susan launched her dream—River Whey Creamery. As with most dreams, it started with a small acorn of possibility and a passion for something—in this case, world class cheese, using locally sourced milk. Her philosophy goes beyond farm to table—she calls it “earth to soul,” and it’s rooted in a true belief in sustainability and transparency.
Dominica Rice-Cisneros is a chef, entrepreneur, mother, wife, community activist, and urban gardener who believes that every single person deserves access to high-quality foods.
Chef Dominica honed her fine dining skills over the course of her 30+ year career, which included six years working closely with her mentor Chef Alice Waters at Chez Panisse; interning with Chef Alex Lee at restaurant Daniel, working at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, and with Chef Antonio Rivera in Mexico City. Her experience in Mexico City developed her appreciation for local farmer’s markets and seasonal cooking—a practice she continues to live by today.
In 2017, Dominica was inducted into Les Dames d’Escoffier, San Francisco, a philanthropic group of women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage, and hospitality, and named one of the “Female Titans of the Bay Area Food Scene” by Eater San Francisco. She continues to be a champion for having more women of all ages and stages of life in the restaurant industry. Dominica believes in training and providing career opportunities for local women in the Bay Area.
Born and raised in Downtown Los Angeles, Dominica is a second generation Mexican-American whose family origins tie back to Chihuahua, Mexico. Dominica continues to raise her small family in the Bay Area. She stays inspired by their travels, the idea of carrying on traditional Mexican recipes and perfecting Chicana Heritage cooking.