Rick Tramonto to CIA Graduates: Answer Knocks at Your Door

Chef Rick Tramonto

Former Best Chef in the Midwest Delivers Commencement Address

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Jeff Levine
Communications Manager

Hyde Park, NY – During graduation ceremonies at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) on Tuesday, November 26, Chef Rick Tramonto recalled applying for his first job at a Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers shop as a teenager in his hometown of Rochester, NY. He needed to work to help support his family. When he knocked on the door, company founder Dave Thomas answered and gave Tramonto a job that changed his life.

"I had nothing to offer but passion, heart, and a willingness to learn," said Tramonto, who turned his opportunity into a career that included being named one of Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs in 1994 and winning the James Beard Foundation Award as Best Chef: Midwest in 2002 while at Tru in Chicago. "Everything I got was because someone answered the door when I knocked."

Now the executive chef and co-owner of Restaurant R'evolution in New Orleans, LA, Tramonto, 50, told associate degree recipients at the CIA's Hyde Park, NY campus they shouldn't be afraid to knock on doors at the beginning of their careers. "And once you win James Beard Awards, don't forget to answer your door when others knock," he advised. He added that these graduates have both great opportunity and great responsibility thanks to their CIA education. "At the end of the day, you are the future of the culinary world."

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image

Chef Rick Tramonto speaks to graduates of The Culinary Institute of America at the college's Hyde Park, NY campus on November 26, 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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