President of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide Delivers Commencement Address

Media Contact:

Jeff Levine
Communications Manager
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j_levine@culinary.edu

Hyde Park, NY – Joe Essa, head of one of three companies that make up the empire of legendary chef Wolfgang Puck, advised graduates of The Culinary Institute of America to work smart. Mr. Essa is the president of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, which operates and franchises the brand’s casual restaurants and oversees its consumer products, including packaged foods, cookware, and appliances. He delivered the commencement address at the CIA’s Hyde Park campus on January 23.

“In today’s world, it is about hard work, yes; but you have to work smart,” Essa told recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. “Based on what I know about your classes, your very competent teachers, and your best-in-class facilities, I know that you will work smarter than most in our industry and I expect each of you to surpass what I have done in half the time it has taken me.”

Mr. Essa first joined Chef Puck as managing partner of operations of the fine dining division in 1999. Five years later, he was appointed executive vice president of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, which includes the concepts Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar, Wolfgang Puck Bistro and Café, Wolfgang Puck Express, Wolfgang Puck Airport Express & Kiosk, Gelson’s, and Wolfgang Puck Cultural Center Café.

A Certified Public Accountant, Mr. Essa’s culinary experience includes serving as vice president of operations for several of New York City restaurateur Pino Luongo’s concepts and opening and operating two of his own restaurants: Assaggio in West Hartford, CT and Café Pasta in Greensboro, NC.

The entire graduation ceremony can be seen online.


Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image

Joe Essa applauds graduates of The Culinary Institute of America during associate degree commencement exercises at the college's Hyde Park, NY campus on January 23, 2015. (Photo credit: Al Nowak/CIA)
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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, culinary science, and applied food studies, as well as certificate programs in culinary arts 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 47,000 alumni that includes industry leaders such as Grant Achatz, Anthony Bourdain, Roy Choi, Cat Cora, Dan Coudreaut, Steve Ells, Johnny Iuzzini, 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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