Carnegie Hall, April 28, 2013
The International Culinary Center held its graduation ceremony at Carnegie Hall for the very first time on April 28th, 2013. We were honored to have Thomas Keller as our commencement speaker, and sharing the stage and hall with our graduates were our 2012 Outstanding Alumni, and our Deans, faculty, staff, family and friends. It was a day to remember. Truly amazing and inspiring. I’d like to share with you my welcome speech along with some photos of a graduation we won’t soon forget.
Well, graduates, I am as excited as you are today. Wow, on the stage at Carnegie Hall. How did we all get here? I did some serious reflecting on this momentous occasion and I realize that it hasn’t just been our own achievements that got us here.
I am the granddaughter of a lobster fisherman from Nova Scotia and a shepherdess from Slovakia. A second-generation American. It took those earlier generations to get me to this iconic stage in New York City. I had loving and inspirational parents. I was embraced and supported by my siblings. And look around me on this stage and see the incredible team of The International Culinary Center. I have had the great fortune of working with the most gifted, talented and accomplished professionals. They have nurtured thousands of alumnae who have made our reputation soar. It is all of them who got me here today. I stand on their shoulders and thank them from the bottom of my heart. Likewise I am so proud of all of you today.
Most of you have sacrificed, worked hard and most importantly believed in yourself to be here today. That already is a key to success. At commencement we are suppose to give advice. Well, if I can give you a word of advice it is ….never to stop learning and never give up your dreams. Life is fraught with challenges and setbacks but if you focus, if you believe in yourself and take that step forward even if it is just one step at a time, you can go the distance. You have chosen a noble profession. To feed and nourish the world is essential. Our food and wine world is filled with challenge, inspiration, hard work and camaraderie.
Some of our graduates with Dorothy
I recently graduated myself from the OPM program at Harvard Business School and was chosen to give the speech that day. My classmates were from all over the world. While there, I thought to myself how serious the cultural clashes are in the world today. But in the halls of education we have an oasis. We have a sacred place where people come to learn, understand, trust and grow. In our food community the baseline of trust and understanding is even greater. I have never seen two chefs from two very diverse cultures be anything but be intrigued by each other. They look forward to cooking and sharing a meal together. They toast and share a glass and almost always have true appreciation for each other’s work and culture. Call me naïve, but I do think our lives as chefs and hospitality professionals place us in a unique position. We are nurturers by trade, but by feeding the body, we touch the soul… and in our own quiet way are enablers of peace and understanding. We hold a position of trust. In your busy lives, please don’t forget that.
We are thrilled to hold our ceremony with our Deans, Faculty and Staff. With your beautiful family and friends. You, like I, owe our success and the fulfillment of our dreams to them. Remember to hug them and thank them.
In closing I have to tell you that I am a Yankee fan. And I think for the first time, there is a quote from the famed Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra that actually applies just to us. He said,” If you ever see a fork in the road, take it!” I hope you have many, many forks in your road. Thank you.
L: Thomas Keller, R: Dorothy, Dean Jacques Pepin, Thomas Keller, Dean Cesare Casella
Culinary VP Candy Argondizza and Deans Jose Andres, Alan Richman, Alain Sailhac, Jacques Torres, Jacques Pepin, Emily Luchetti, Cesare Casella, Andre Soltner backstage
Some of our wonderful faculty backstage at Carnegie Hall