The Culinary Institute of America held its annual Leadership Awards event at the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on April 28. Celebrity chefs from around the country joined CEOs, culinary entrepreneurs, and food industry leaders who were part of a capacity crowd of more than 600. They were all there to support four icons of New York dining who helped make New York world-class restaurant scene that it is today, and watch them receive their Augie Awards.
Named for French Chef Auguste Escoffier in recognition of his unwavering pursuit of excellence, creativity, and professionalism, the Augie Awards were created by the CIA in 2007 to honor members of the food and foodservice business who exemplify those traits. The four individuals who received the Augie statuettes this year were escorted to the stage through standing ovations. They each spent their long careers as trailblazers, entrepreneurs, and mentors:
- Albert Kumin, pastry chef and educator
- Egidiana Maccioni, who, with her son Marco, accepted the award on behalf of her husband restaurateur Sirio Maccioni
- Mimi Sheraton, writer and food critic
- André Soltner, master chef
Dr. Tim Ryan, president of the CIA, opened the evening with a look at how New York's dining scene has changed since these legends began their careers. "I have tremendous personal admiration and affection for each of our honorees. They have inspired me—and thousands of others—in their own unique ways, and I am grateful for their example." He spoke about how New York became the culinary capital of the world during the heyday of our honorees, then lead the crowd in a chorus of "New York, New York."
The Leadership Awards dinner is a major fund raiser for the CIA, with proceeds from sponsorships, donations, ticket sales, and an online auction all contributing to student scholarships. This year, a record amount topping $1 million was raised. "This was one of the most dramatic and successful of all of our fund-raising events," says Dr. Victor Gielisse, vice president of advancement and business development at the CIA, "Mimi, Albert, Sirio, and André helped shape our industry during a time of huge change and growth. Not only are we honored to celebrate each of them, but we are excited to share their inspirational stories with our students."
Thirty current CIA students were on hand to assist the guest chefs—including CIA graduates JJ Johnson '04, Bill Telepan '87, and Alfred Portale '81—who prepared hors d'oeuvre for the opening reception. The students gained inspiration and perspective from the four honorees, and they also took the stage to thank everyone for supporting the scholarship fund.