Instead of attending their usual cooking, baking and pastry, management, science, and liberal arts courses on April 11, students at The Culinary Institute of America experienced a one-of-a-kind day devoted to famed New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer. In addition, many CIA graduates who work for Meyers's Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) were on campus, recruiting students to work for their restaurants after graduation.
"The Culinary Institute of America is one of our primary sources for talent at Union Square Hospitality Group," says USHG Talent Acquisition Manager Jeff Turok, a 2011 graduate. "CIA students develop a culture of excellence that closely reflects our own, which has resulted in many graduates becoming rising stars within our family of restaurants, bars, and catering company. We currently employ more than 40 managers who have a CIA degree, and even more cooks and servers in our kitchens and dining rooms."
The James Beard Foundation has bestowed USHG with 26 awards for excellent service and hospitality at restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, and Maialino. Ever evolving and innovating, Meyer launched the casual Shake Shack in 2004. He has recently taken the lead in changing the culture of the American restaurant industry by eliminating tipping, thus creating more opportunities for professional and financial growth for employees.
"Danny Meyer has become one of the most influential restaurateurs in the country and the world," CIA President Dr. Tim Ryan says to students during the day's events. "He's won every award you can possibly imagine in our industry. His restaurants are highly rated and popular. You have to start to wonder why. A big reason is that his entire organization focuses on making people feel better when they leave his restaurant than when they came in. Think about the magic contained within that philosophy. How simple that sounds, but it's truly extraordinary."
CIA students filled the 800-seat auditorium in the college's Marriott Pavilion for sessions with Meyer and his team about career opportunities at USHG, his hospitality philosophy, ending tipping in the restaurant industry, careers in wine, and a cooking demonstration with 1988 gradd Carmen Quagliata, executive chef of Union Square Café.