Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

Latin Cuisines Culinary Historian Speaks at Commencement

Maricel Presilla Tells Graduates that Education is Power, and with Power is Responsibility

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Jeff Levine
Communications Manager

Hyde Park – Dr. Maricel E. Presilla, a culinary historian, author, and chef specializing in the foods of Latin America and Spain, reminded graduates of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) they are following a tradition of excellence, and with it carries responsibility. Dr. Presilla was commencement speaker at the college’s Hyde Park, NY campus on July 3.

“Keep your sharp knives at hand, but hold on to the wooden spoon,” Dr. Presilla told 61 recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. “A wooden spoon becomes one with the food. It also represents the collective wisdom of grandmothers and home cooks everywhere.”

Dr. Presilla is president of Gran Cacao Company, a Latin American food research and marketing company that offers cacao educational programs and premium heirloom cocoa beans. She is also chef and co-owner of two restaurants and a Latin American food store in Hoboken, NJ.

“If I had it to do all over again, I would be a graduate like you are, from The Culinary Institute of America. You are standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Dr. Presilla, a native of Cuba who immigrated to the United States in 1970. “You are the heirs of the tradition of this accumulated wisdom and you have a responsibility. Make your kitchen a place of wonders. Make your kitchen a pleasant place. Don’t ever forget that education is power and now you have the power to change the world.”

A member of the CIA’s Latin Cuisines Advisory Committee, Dr. Presilla has been a presenter at the college’s Latin Flavors, American Kitchens and Worlds of Flavorconferences. In 2013, the most recent of her five books, Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America (Norton, 2012), won both the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ cookbook award for General Subject Book of the Year and the James Beard Foundation Award for Cookbook of the Year. She won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2012.

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image

Dr. Maricel Presilla speaks to graduates of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY on July 3, 2014. Dr. Presilla is an author, historian, and chef specializing in Latin and Spanish cuisines. (Photo credit: Al Nowak, On Location Studios/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, 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 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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