Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

Modern-Day Shepherd Keith Martin Speaks to Graduates

Thomas Keller’s Partner at Pure Bred Lamb Espouses Commitment

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Jeff Levine
Communications Manager

Hyde Park, NY – Keith Martin, owner and farmer at Elysian Fields Sheep Farm in Pennsylvania, challenged graduates of The Culinary Institute of America to commit themselves to success. Mr. Martin—who is also the co-owner, with iconic chef Thomas Keller, of Pure Bred Lamb—delivered the commencement address at the CIA’s Hyde Park campus on February 13.

“Never quit. Commit,” Martin advised recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. He said that, in the sheep barns at 2 a.m. with the lambs, he’s often not passionate about what he’s doing, but he is committed. “It is not the height of your passion, but the depth of your commitment that will ensure your success.”

In addition to commitment (C), he told graduates of the importance of holism (H), effort (E), and focus (F). Together, he said, they create a CHEF. “Make that word your own. Redefine it, and define yourself accordingly,” Martin added.

A former investment broker, Martin gave up that career in 1989 to become a farmer. With 200 acres in Waynesburg, PA, he created Elysian Fields. In 1997, he partnered with Chef Keller to create Pure Bred Lamb, which is found in restaurants across the country, including Keller’s. Martin grades and custom-cuts the meat himself.

As an advocate for the respectful and ethical treatment of lambs, he developed and patented the Safe Alternative® method ensuring his flocks have a healthy and natural lifecycle. Seven family farms in Pennsylvania and Ohio have now signed on to follow the Safe Alternative model.

The entire graduation ceremony can be seen online.

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image

Keith Martin delivers the keynote address at commencement ceremonies at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY on February 13, 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, management, 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, 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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