National Restaurant Association Chair to CIA Graduates: "Whatever Dream You Have is Available to You"

Phil Hickey

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Jeff Levine
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Hyde Park, NY – Phil Hickey, chairman of the board of the National Restaurant Association, told 68 graduates of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) that whatever career aspirations they have are within reach and, at the same time, they have a responsibility to lead and inspire. Hickey, a 37-year restaurant industry veteran, was the keynote speaker at commencement ceremonies at the CIA's Hyde Park, NY campus on Wednesday, July 3, 2013.

"The restaurant industry needs you. We need new leaders. We need you to inspire," Hickey challenged recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. "To get to this point, someone put a spark in you...For whom will you be the spark?"

Hickey advised graduates that the six most important values they can hold are integrity, curiosity, adaptability, passion, faith, and persistence.

In addition to his role with the National Restaurant Association, Hickey is CEO of Jocks II, Inc., parent company of Jocks & Jills sports-themed restaurants. He was previously chairman and CEO of the parent company of LongHorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille. During his career, he managed restaurants in 42 states.

His many industry honors include being named Georgia Restaurateur of the Year in 2002. Hickey also won the Golden Chain Award from Nation's Restaurant News in 2005, the Chain Leadership Award from Chain Leader magazine in 2006, and the Elliott Group's Mentor of the Year Award in 2007. He is a member of the Hall of Fame of the Michigan State University School of Hospitality Business.

Hickey told the newest CIA alumni that it was the restaurant business that allowed him—"a middle class kid from Detroit"—to meet presidents. "The beautiful part about the restaurant industry is that the only limit is your imagination," he said. "Whatever dream you have is available to you."

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image

Phil Hickey, chairman of the National Restaurant Association, challenges 68 graduates of The Culinary Institute of America to lead and inspire during their careers in the food world. Hickey, a 37-year industry veteran, was commencement speaker at the CIA's Hyde Park, NY campus on July 3, 2013. (Photo credit: CIA/Phil Mansfield)
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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, and culinary science, 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 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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