Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

Lauded NYC Pastry Chef Returns to Alma Mater to Deliver Commencement Address

Hyde Park, NY – Daniel Skurnick, executive pastry chef at Buddakan NYC and Le Coucou in New York City, was keynote speaker during commencement at the New York campus of The Culinary Institute of America on September 7. The two restaurants are part of Stephen Starr’s multi-concept group of Starr Restaurants, and Le Coucou won the 2017 James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant.

“Remember that we’re doing an amazing job and we have a really lucky, wonderful life,” said Chef Skurnick, who earned a degree in baking and pastry arts from the CIA in 2000. “When an accountant is having a horrible day, they’ll go home to relax and unwind by baking cookies. When I’m having an awful day, I don’t go home to do my taxes. We already have that next level of an awesome life.”

After graduating from the CIA—and with a degree in anthropology in hand from SUNY Binghamton—Skurnick spent a year in Thailand, living with a migratory hunter-gatherer tribe and learning their culture and cooking techniques. Once back in the U.S., he worked in the pastry departments at Gramercy Tavern, Bouley, and Jean-Georges in New York City and was executive pastry chef for both Morimoto NYC and Morimoto Waikiki.

Chef Skurnick spent much of his formative years in Hawaii, although he was born in the Hudson Valley, not far from the CIA.

The entire CIA commencement ceremony, including Chef Skurnick’s address to 60 recipients of associate degrees in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry Arts, can be seen online.

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image:

Daniel Skurnick delivers the commencement address at the New York campus of The Culinary Institute of America on September 7, 2018. Chef Skurnick is a CIA graduate and executive pastry chef at Buddakan NYC and Le Coucou in New York City. (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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