The Best Career…Hands-down
Gower Lane always enjoyed working with his hands. He loved tinkering with cars so much that he pursued a degree in Automotive Technology from the State University of New York at Delhi. But after working in the automotive field for a few years, he realized there was another hands-on activity that he loved even more—cooking.
Back in the ’70s, Gower’s mother worked for renowned caterer Abigail Kirsch, so he was exposed to the culinary arts at an early age. When Gower was old enough, he started working for Kirsch too, first as a dishwasher and then at various positions as his skill set grew. “I stayed there through high school, then worked at a pizzeria during college. When I graduated I went back to work with Abigail on the weekends,” says Gower. “I liked what I was doing so much I decided to make it a career and applied to The Culinary Institute of America.”
While he wasn’t exactly thrilled about being a student again, Gower knew it was the right thing to do if he wanted to succeed. “Getting back into textbooks and the regiment of studying was tough but I really appreciated my time at the CIA,” he explains. “I felt strongly that my education could lead me to a variety of careers. The opportunities seemed endless.”
Gower initially planned to work in the hotel industry, but a position at a continuing care retirement community changed his direction. “I found I really enjoyed senior living, so I stayed,” says Gower, director of purchasing at The Culinary Institute of America. “Dining is an important social event for the residents and to make that an enjoyable experience is truly rewarding. It’s no longer the outdated misconception of restrictive diets or institutional food. We serve restaurant-style cuisine, everything from comfort food to gourmet dishes made fresh to order.”
For a qualified talent pool from which to hire, Gower looked in the past to his alma mater. “Having a degree from the CIA puts your résumé at the top of the pile. Graduates are well-rounded, knowledgeable, and on top of trends in the industry. They know proper cooking methods and are well-versed in sanitation,” he says. “Now with the CIA’s bachelor program I’m seeing chefs with real management skills. When I’m hiring I need someone on top of their game and I get that from the CIA.”
In May 2019, Gower answered the call from the CIA. The former director of purchasing was retiring after 29 years and the college needed someone with just the right experience to lead the team. As the former director of operations at Kendal on Hudson, a senior living facility in Sleep Hollow, NY, Gower spent the last 15 years overseeing numerous departments and was responsible for the entire dining operation serving three meals a day, close to 400 covers, to the elder community. "I'm really looking forward to being back on campus and interacting with the chef-instructors and the students," he says. With Gower on the job, the purchasing department is in good hands.