Bachelor's and Associate Degrees Bestowed on 169 CIA Graduates

Nick Kokonas-th
Maneet Chauhan-th

Industry Leaders Inspire at Two Commencement Ceremonies

Media Contact:

Jeff Levine
Communications Manager

Hyde Park, NY – One hundred five graduates of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) received their bachelor's degree in a ceremony at the Bardavon Theater in Poughkeepsie, NY on Thursday, February 7. The commencement was held off campus to accommodate the large number of graduates and their families who heard from Nick Kokonas, the co-owner and creator—with CIA alumnus Grant Achatz '94—of the Chicago restaurants Alinea, Next, and The Aviary.

The following day, CIA alumna and celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan '00 delivered the keynote for the associate degree commencement on the college's Hyde Park campus, at which 64 students earned their diplomas in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts.

Kokonas told the baccalaureate graduates that he and Achatz created their restaurants thinking about how the guests would feel, rather than what they would taste. "Whether you end up cooking in an organic pizza restaurant, large hotel, taqueria, or Michelin-starred restaurant, you are not simply cooking food. You're creating an experience for guests," Kokonas said. "You need to look at every aspect of the dining experience, analyze it and ask yourself, 'Why do we do it that way?'"

Alinea has been voted the Best Restaurant in America three times and is the only restaurant in Chicago with three Michelin stars. Chicago magazine named Alinea the best restaurant in the history of the city.

Chauhan made a name for herself as executive chef at Vermilion in both Chicago and New York City after her CIA graduation. She later became the first Indian woman to compete on the Food Network's Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef, and is now a judge on the same channel's Chopped.

"Today marks the beginning of an exciting, prosperous journey. By graduating from the CIA, you have already taken the first step," Chauhan told associate degree recipients. "A CIA education is like the perfect master sauce. What you do with it will determine your outcome."

The CIA holds 16 associate degree and three bachelor's degree graduations each year. Large graduating classes soon will no longer have to leave the Hyde Park campus for their commencements. The on-campus Marriott Pavilion, to be completed in fall 2013, will include an 800-seat theater that will host all graduation ceremonies, along with industry conferences and other major events.

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: CIA President Dr. Tim Ryan (right) and keynote speaker Nick Kokonas at The Culinary Institute of America's baccalaureate commencement ceremony in Poughkeepsie, NY on February 7, 2013. (Photo credit: CIA/Phil Mansfield)

Photo 2: Maneet Chauhan '00, judge on the Food Network's Chopped and former competitor on Iron Chef America, speaks to associate degree recipients during the graduation ceremony at The Culinary Institute of America's Hyde Park campus on February 8, 2013. (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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