Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

Former National Restaurant Association Chairman Addresses CIA Graduates

Hyde Park, NY – Jeff Davis, immediate past chairman of the National Restaurant Association, spoke to 75 bachelor’s degree graduates of The Culinary Institute of America on April 12. Through his company, United States Beef Corporation, Davis is the world’s largest franchisee of Arby’s restaurants.

“You’re about to find we’ve chosen such a wonderful profession,” Davis told graduates. “It’s such a broad palette for you to apply your brushstrokes to.”

Davis’s parents opened one of the first Arby’s restaurants in 1969 in their hometown of Tulsa, OK. Three years later, they opened a second store. Young Jeff worked in those restaurants through junior high and high school—first as a dishwasher, and later at the front counter. By 1995, he was the company’s CEO. Since then, US Beef has grown to almost 400 Arby’s locations and six Taco Bueno restaurants in the Midwest and Western United States. He now serves as chairman while his brother John Davis is CEO.

He recalled that when he graduated from college, he was embarrassed his family worked in fast food. His father told him, “If you don’t like the perception of fast food, then elevate it.” Davis then advised the newest class of CIA alumni, “Now it’s your turn. Elevate whatever category of foodservice you choose to go into. Right now, the world is indeed your oyster.”

Active in the National Restaurant Association, Mr. Davis served as the influential foodservice trade association’s chairman in 2017.

The entire CIA baccalaureate commencement ceremony, including Mr. Davis’s address to recipients of degrees in Food Business Management, Culinary Science, and Applied Food Studies, can be seen online.

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image:

Jeff Davis addresses bachelor’s degree graduates of The Culinary Institute of America at the college's New York campus on April 12, 2018. Davis is chairman of United States Beef Corporation and immediate past chairman of the National Restaurant Association. (Photo credit: CIA/Phil Mansfield)
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Jeff Levine
Communications Writer

About The Culinary Institute of America:

Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is the world’s premier culinary college. Dedicated to developing leaders in foodservice and hospitality, the independent, not-for-profit CIA offers bachelor’s degrees in management, culinary arts, culinary science, and applied food studies, and associate degrees in either culinary arts or baking and pastry arts. The college also offers executive education through its Food Business School along with certificate programs and courses for professionals and enthusiasts. Its conferences, leadership initiatives, and consulting services have made the CIA the think tank of the food industry and its worldwide network of nearly 50,000 alumni includes innovators in every area of the food business. The CIA has locations in New York, California, Texas, and Singapore.

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