Meet the 2019 Commencement Speakers
Prominent chefs and alumni will speak to this year’s culinary, pastry and management graduates on both coasts.
We’re honored to announce that Dan Barber and alum Adrienne Cheatham (Culinary, '07) are joining us in New York City in May, while Wolfgang Puck and alum Matthew Leung (Culinary, '19) will be part of our Los Angeles campus’ first graduation commencement in June.
The Institute of Culinary Education's 2018-2019 career program graduates are in for two final formal guest lectures that are guaranteed to inspire. Industry icons Wolfgang Puck, chef-owner of more than 35 restaurants, and Dan Barber, executive chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, will share insights from their storied careers in the food and hospitality industry at each commencement ceremony.
Chef Wolfgang has opened dozens of restaurants and bars around the world since he debuted Spago in Hollywood in 1982. Born and raised in Austria, his career began in France at prominent restaurants in Paris, Monaco and Provence. Throughout nearly 45 years in Los Angeles, Chef Wolfgang's been nominated for 24 James Beard Awards, winning seven, including Outstanding Chef in 1991 and 1998 and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. He earned two Michelin stars at Spago Beverly Hills and one Michelin star at CUT, his steakhouse in the Beverly Wilshire hotel.
Chef Dan has led the national conversation connecting restaurants, agriculture, food systems and ultimately sustainability. He's been featured on Netflix's "Chef's Table," named one of TIME's 100 most influential people in the world, and won eight James Beard Awards among more than 15 nominations. Blue Hill at Stone Barns is No. 12 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list, and Chef Dan won the 2018 Chefs' Choice Award. He wrote "The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food," and co-founded Row 7 Seed Company, through which chefs and plant breeders collaborate on developing vegetable and grain varieties.
Their speeches will be preceded by an alum from each coast. In New York City, "Top Chef" runner-up Adrienne Cheatham will speak to her experiences as executive sous chef at Le Bernardin, executive chef at Red Rooster Harlem, and corporate chef de cuisine for Marcus Samuelsson, before launching her pop-up dinner series, SundayBest. Chef Adrienne helped open Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, Privé, Streetbird and Bermuda, and tested and edited recipes for Eric Ripert’s cookbook and TV show, “Avec Eric,” as well as Chef Marcus’ “The Red Rooster Cookbook.” She was also a chef-instructor at ICE.
West Coast alum speaker Matthew Leung won ICE’s #CulinaryVoice scholarship contest, which was featured on ABC’s “The Chew,” in 2018 and enrolled in Culinary Arts at our Los Angeles campus in September. Upon completing his classroom hours, Matt earned an externship as a commis at The French Laundry, where he was hired full time.
The New York campus graduation will take place at NYU Skirball Center on May 14 at 9 a.m., followed by the Los Angeles campus' inaugural commencement at the Pasadena Playhouse on June 3. Students from ICE's Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts, Restaurant & Culinary Management, and Hospitality & Hotel Management programs will receive their diplomas, and award winners will be recognized.
Past speakers have included restaurateur Danny Meyer and Gramercy Tavern Chef Michael Anthony, as well as alumni speakers, mokbar Chef-Owner Esther Choi (Culinary, '11) and Hampton Inn General Manager Jonathan Defren (Culinary/Management '08, Hospitality '11).