Friday was a homecoming for Michael Sohocki, chef/owner of Restaurant Gwendolyn, 152 E. Pecan St. He returned to his alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., to deliver the keynote speech during commencement exercises.
Sohocki advised 49 recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts at the college’s main campus that running a restaurant is a team effort.
“A chef can’t carry a restaurant any more than a captain can carry a ship,” Sohocki told the newest class of fellow CIA alumni. He urged graduates to be nice, to not be afraid to wash dishes, and to listen when they become bosses. “I’ve learned so much more by ‘listening up’ than by ‘talking down.’ Turn off your phone and when people talk to you, give them your undivided attention.”
Sohocki graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the CIA in 2002. The Robstown native opened his own restaurant in 2010 after working for fellow CIA alumnus Andrew Weissman at Le Rêve, Il Sogno and the Sandbar. Earlier this year, Sohocki was named a San Antonio Rising Star by Starchefs.com.
Restaurant Gwendolyn is at the location of the former Le Rêve on the River Walk, not far from the CIA’s San Antonio campus. The menu features local, handmade, and seasonal ingredients, and changes daily. There are no blenders, mixers, deep fryers, or any other kitchen appliances with a motor. The concept at Gwendolyn is to prepare food the way it was done before the Industrial Revolution.