CIA Professor Returns to Speak with Graduates

Fritz Sonnenschmidt-th

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Jeff Levine
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Hyde Park, NY – Frederic "Fritz" Sonnenschmidt spent 34 years as a faculty member and dean of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) before his retirement in 2002. More than a decade later, he returned to the college's Hyde Park, NY campus to deliver words of encouragement and inspiration to 69 recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts.

"Cooking and baking is an art. It is a science. And it is a way of sharing," Chef Sonnenschmidt told graduates at the commencement ceremony on Friday, March 1. "Listen and learn and be willing to share your knowledge and allow others to share with you. That's how you will stay on the cutting edge."

Sonnenschmidt founded the Gourmet Society student organization at the CIA when he began teaching in 1968. The college was still located in New Haven, CT at the time, four years before moving to its current location in the Hudson Valley. The Gourmet Society remains active on the CIA campus to this day.

Chef Sonnenschmidt was born in Bavaria and worked in hotels in Germany and England before immigrating to the U.S. in the early 1960s. A Certified Master Chef, he was named the American Culinary Federation's Chef of the Year in 1994.

A fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sonnenschmidt is co-author of Dining with Sherlock Holmes (Fordham University Press, 1990), among his several cookbooks.

College President Tim Ryan had Sonnenschmidt as an instructor when he was a CIA student in the 1970s. Following Sonnenschmidt's address, Dr. Ryan called him "truly one of the finest chefs who has ever walked these halls."

As one of the longest-serving faculty members in the history of the college, Fritz Sonnenschmidt was named a CIA Heritage Professor in 2006.

Photo Caption:

Dr. Tim Ryan (left), president of The Culinary Institute of America, enjoys a light moment with keynote speaker Fritz Sonnenschmidt during commencement ceremonies at the CIA's Hyde Park campus on March 1, 2013. Chef Sonnenschmidt is one of the longest-serving faculty members in the history of the college, and Dr. Ryan was his student in the 1970s. (Photo credit: CIA/Phil Mansfield)

Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is an independent, not-for-profit college offering associate and bachelor's degrees with majors in culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and culinary science, as well as certificate programs in culinary arts, Latin cuisines, and wine and beverage studies. As the world's premier culinary college, the CIA provides thought leadership in the areas of health & wellness, sustainability, and world cuisines & cultures through research and conferences. The CIA has a network of 45,000 alumni that includes industry leaders such as Grant Achatz, Anthony Bourdain, Roy Choi, Cat Cora, Dan Coudreaut, Steve Ells, Charlie Palmer, and Roy Yamaguchi. The CIA also offers courses for professionals and enthusiasts, as well as consulting services in support of innovation for the foodservice and hospitality industry. The college has campuses in Hyde Park, NY; St. Helena, CA; San Antonio, TX; and Singapore.

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