Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

“Coolest” Houston Chef Robert Del Grande Speaks to Graduates About the Importance of Enthusiasm

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Jeff Levine
Communications Manager

San Antonio, TX – Robert Del Grande, executive chef and partner of Houston’s Schiller Del Grande Restaurant Group, advised graduates of The Culinary Institute of America that enthusiasm will be the key to their career success. Chef Del Grande delivered the commencement address at the college’s San Antonio campus on October 17.

Chef Del Grande’s enthusiasm, as well as his culinary and business skills, have earned him diverse honors throughout his career, from induction into the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” in 1987 to being named one of “the coolest people in food” in 2013 and 2014 by The Daily Meal.

“Work hard to be masters of enthusiasm,” Del Grande told recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts. “For cooking to be great—whether it’s a new idea, a past idea, or even an everyday idea like scrambling an egg—approach it with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm imbues things with an energetic vitality. If you always remain enthusiastic about cooking, you will make the world a better place.”

The San Francisco native partnered with his wife and in-laws 30 years ago to create a restaurant group that currently includes the concepts RDG + Bar Annie, Rio Ranch Steakhouse, The Grove, The Lake House, and Café Express. Chef Del Grande pioneered the fast casual dining segment with the opening of the first Café Express in 1984. At the same time, his Café Annie became a fine dining mainstay, earning an Ivy Award and a Distinguished Restaurants of North America DiRoNA Award.

Del Grande won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 1992.

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image

Chef and restaurateur Robert Del Grande talked to graduates about enthusiasm during his commencement address at The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio on October 17, 2014. (Photo credit: Robin Jerstad/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 46,000 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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