Tag Archive | "Tim Ryan"

The CIA Launches NAO, a Journey into New World Flavors

Kit Goldsbury (right) and Tim Ryan prepare to burn the NAO sign to mark the opening of the restaurant.

The Culinary Institute of America opened its newest restaurant, NAO (pronounced “nay-oh”), Thursday night with a grand-opening splash. It is the international culinary academy’s ninth restaurant and its first in San Antonio.

Celebrity chef Sara Moulton

Celebrity chef Sara Moulton was on hand, as was Kit Goldsbury, whose efforts to revitalize the Pearl Brewery played the primary role in attracting the renowned culinary school to San Antonio. Also in attendance were several chefs and food figures, including Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks, Jesse Perez of the upcoming Arcade at the Pearl Brewery, Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria Ice House, cookbook author and kitchenware merchant Melissa Guerra, and Leslie Horne of Aurelia’s Chorizo.

Focused on the diverse cuisines of Latin America, NAO offers a menu filled with New World flavors rooted in tradition and creatively reinterpreted with modern, relevant perspectives and techniques using indigenous ingredients. Derived from the Latin root “neo,” meaning to weave or intertwine, as well as the English root meaning something new, NAO celebrates tradition and innovation.

“The CIA opened our San Antonio campus to help elevate the cuisines of Latin America to their rightful place among the great cuisines of the world,” said Dr. Tim Ryan, president of The Culinary Institute of America. “The opening of NAO is a true milestone for culinary education, and for how we as chefs think about the cuisines of Latin America. The flavors of the new world are calling to be discovered, and the CIA is proud to showcase them to our guests in the dining room at NAO.”

Guests enjoy a sample of NAO’s New World flavors.

Ryan also took a moment to inform the guests of Moulton’s presence and remarked that she had graduated from the CIA as part of the greatest class in the school’s history. Naturally, it was the class in which Ryan also graduated.

Several students then unveiled the new sign outside of the restaurant. Ryan reminded the audience that most chefs love fire.  It brings out their inner pyromaniac, he said. So, instead of having a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Goldsbury and Ryan took blazing tiki torches and set fire to a paper sign in front of a doorway to the restaurant.

Celebrating the cuisines of all of Latin America, NAO offers a unique opportunity to experience the flavors of regions both familiar and unexplored, ranging from the Rio Grande valley to the southern-most tip of Tierra del Fuego.

The NAO banner burns.

The menu includes dishes like Causitas, a sushi-style Peruvian dish made of purple potato puree, crabmeat and Botija olives; as well as a Oaxacan Stone Soup, a flavorful seafood broth with shrimp, serrano chilies and herbs. Cooked right in the guests’ bowl with wood-fired hot river rocks, NAO modernizes an ancient method of cooking developed at a time when metal pots were rare and gourds served as the “stock pot” of the day.

Jicama tacos with mango and cilantro

Another exciting aspect of the restaurant is the Visiting Chef Series; featuring guest chefs from Latin America who share their culinary expertise as instructors in residence during the college’s Latin Cuisines Certificate Program. Additionally, they offer NAO dining guests an opportunity to experience the culinary talents of Latin America’s most celebrated chefs in what will serve as a virtual ‘conservatory’ of Latin Cuisine. With a line-up including Peru’s Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, Brazil’s Yara Roberts, Argentina’s Hubert O’Farrell, and Bolivia’s Eric Calderon, NAO offers a diverse range of culinary experiences.


NAO’s Executive Chef Geronimo Lopez-Monascal is a Venezuelan native with more than 20 years of culinary experience in six countries, who has spent much of his career exploring the various ingredients, techniques, and traditions of Latin America. He brings his talents to NAO not only as chef, but also as instructor in the CIA’s Latin Cuisines Certificate and Associate Degree programs. During their course of studies at the college’s San Antonio campus, students will work in both the dining room and kitchen operations at NAO.

Heading up the front of the house operations is Robert Rodriguez, a 1997 CIA graduate who recently returned to his alma matter as NAO general manager. Rodriguez’s hospitality and restaurant experience spans more than 15 years and includes restaurants in New York City as well as San Antonio.

NAO is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. Reservations are available online via, or they can be made by calling the restaurant directly at 210-554-6484. For more information,  visit

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‘Nothing Significant Happens without Food,’ Johnny Hernandez Says

Johnny Hernandez applauds the graduating class at The Culinary Institute of America's main campus.

Johnny Hernandez, named one of the top five Latino chefs in the United States by Siempre Mujer magazine, returned to the college that launched his thriving career Thursday and served as commencement speaker at The Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park, N.Y., campus.

“You have chosen the most exciting career in the most exciting industry in the world today,” Hernandez told 88 recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. “We are at the center of every celebration, because nothing significant happens without food.”

The 43-year-old San Antonio native remembered the advice of his late father, who only had a second grade education but whose work ethic that inspired him to become the chef and entrepreneur he is today: “You have to do what you love, so you don’t have to work.”

Hernandez’s love has resulted in an expanding restaurant empire that includes La Gloria Ice House, adjacent to the CIA’s San Antonio campus, along with Casa Hernán and True Flavors Catering Company. Two more restaurants and his first cookbook are in the works.

In presenting Hernandez with the college’s Gold Medal following the address, CIA President Tim Ryan called him “a favorite son of San Antonio.”

“Today marks the beginning of a great future that is only limited by your ability to dream big … with the solid foundation of the great culinary education you received here at the CIA,” Hernandez, who earned his CIA degree in 1989, advised graduates. A member of the college’s Alumni Council and Latin Foods Advisory Board, he has been a strong supporter of the CIA San Antonio, raising funds for college scholarships through his annual Paella Challenge contest.


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Culinary Institute of America SA Recognized for Diversity

Hyde Park,  NY– The  National Restaurant Association on Wednesday presented its 2011 Faces of Diversity Inspiration Award recognizing programs at the CIA’s campus in San Antonio.

CIA President Dr. Tim Ryan and San Antonio entrepreneur and philanthropist Kit Goldsbury shared a dream they call “El Sueño” — a dream of a future where Latino chefs have greater opportunities in the food world.

Tim Ryan, left, CIA President, and Kit Goldsbury of Silver Ventures investment firm, celebrate at the Grand Opening of the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio last year.

“One of the major aspects of the dream is to provide a world class culinary education to young Latinos, so they can rise through the ranks of the industry to leadership—and hopefully ownership—positions,” Dr. Ryan said. “The second part of the dream is our desire to elevate the quality and exposure the American dining public has to the depth and breadth of all forms of Latino foods.”

Mr. Goldsbury donated $35 million to the CIA to help the dream become a reality. That happened when The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio officially became the college’s third campus in 2008 and opened expanded facilities there two years later.

The CIA San Antonio now offers an associate degree program based on the same proven curriculum offered at the college’s main campus in Hyde Park, NY. In addition, the facilities include the Center for Foods of the Americas, where chef-researchers document and teach traditional cooking methods of Mexico and Latin America for professionals and food enthusiasts.

The National Restaurant Association presented the CIA and Goldsbury’s Silver Ventures investment firm with its Faces of Diversity Inspiration Award during its 2011 Public Affairs Conference in Washington, DC.

“The accomplishments of the CIA in helping young students achieve better education and career options are admirable and inspiring. Their action exemplifies what is best about our industry and the many opportunities it provides,” said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Since the CIA San Antonio opened, it has graduated 180 students from its culinary arts program, with many choosing to continue their degree education by transferring to the Hyde Park campus.

“We can make a real difference and help young Latinos assume positions of leadership and ownership, and we’re quite confident that will happen,” Dr. Ryan said.

For more information about the National Restaurant Association Inspiration Award, and a complete list of 2011 Faces of Diversity Award winners, visit

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Culinary Institute Opens With Music, Confetti and Great Eats

CIA president Tim Ryan (left) and Pearl Brewery owner Kit Goldsbury celebrate the opening of the new San Antonio culinary facility.

Urban 15 performs before the ribbon-cutting.

The celebration at the Pearl Brewery Saturday was pure San Antonio. The smoky scent of pit barbecue made everyone think of food, while the music, dancers, a festive crowd and even confetti made up the rest of the picture.

Hundreds of San Antonians gathered for the official opening and offered an enthusiastic welcome to the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio.

The school is quickly becoming “the artistic, the cultural and the intellectual center of San Antonio,” Mayor Julián Castro said. “We’re sizzling right now and this is a great component of it,” with a good deal more to come.

The development of a culinary school at the Pearl Brewery started several years ago when local developer Kit Goldsbury and his business, Silver Ventures, purchased the vacated historic property that encompasses some 22 acres. Goldsbury’s partnering with the CIA was at the epicenter of his vision for the property.

Kit Goldsbury (right) and Mayon Julian Castro pose for a picture while CIA president Tim Ryan (left) and David Kellaway, managing director of the CIA's San Antonio campus, look on.

Goldsbury, clad in his trademark jeans, with a ball cap on his head, was audibly moved as he took the podium on stage. “I thought I was going to cry up there,” he said after the ribbon-cutting.  But he was smiling while he said it. “It’s been quite a journey.”

“It’s a great day,” said Ken Halliday, Silver Ventures’ CEO. “It’s a dream come true … But the most exciting thing is looking around and seeing the whole community turn out to share it.”

Hundreds of San Antonians and guests came to celebrate the CIA opening.

Goldsbury and CIA president Tim Ryan performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony on a long string of red jalapeño peppers to the sound of a loud blast followed by a shower of colorful confetti which  rained down on them. The Urban 15 dance group began the ceremony by leading a parade of CIA graduates in white coats and toques through the stage area.

Ryan credited Goldsbury’s dream, or El Sueño, as it has come to be called, with making the school a reality. But the work is only just beginning.

In today’s cities, Latin workers make up anywhere from 25 to 75 percent of the workforce, yet few of those are owners or chefs, Ryan said. Bringing them through the CIA, under Goldsbury’s scholarship program, will help change that.

At the same time, the San Antonio campus will help “elevate Latin American cuisines to its rightful place with the top cuisines of the world,” he added.

The recent Latin Flavors, American Kitchens symposium stressed that by bringing in chefs from Chile, Brazil, Mexico, and Guadeloupe alongside celebrity chefs, such as Rick Bayless and Mark Miller, to explore traditional Latin cooking techniques and exciting flavors

Rick Bayless' pit-roasted Pork Pibil was hand-shredded and tucked into tacos with pickled red onion.

When the official ceremony ended, lines formed for the tender tacos of spicy Pork Pibil and pickled red onions, a specialty of the Yucatan area of Mexico. The pork, in a marinade of achiote and blood orange juice, was pit roasted all night.

There were also lines for Brazilian churrasco-style meats, including a fire-roasted lamb, as well as Mexican-style black beans from Francisco Javier Cárdenas, ceviche from Cuban-born chef Maricel Presilla and wild mushrooms sautéed with a touch of the Chilean spice, merkén, from Santiago’s Christán Correa.

Visiting chef Francisco Javier Cárdenas from San Miguel de Allende serves up his special Mexican black beans.

Local restaurants also got into the act, with the RK Group offering huitlacoche-stuffed tortillas and Las Ramblas offering lobster chorizo and pickled squid. CIA graduate Johnny Hernandez also offered some treats from his restaurant, La Gloria, which is also located on the Pearl Brewery campus.

One of the biggest treats for the throngs that showed up was a free cooking demonstration from Bayless, author of numerous cookbooks on Mexican cooking and star of the TV series, “Mexico — One Plate at a Time.” Folks packed the tent in which he cooked and then waited patiently as he signed copies of his cookbooks.

But it seemed to be the world of tastes that people enjoyed most. And that’s what the new CIA, San Antonio campus promises to provide for many years to come.

Photographs by John Griffin and Bonnie Walker

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CIA Plans Fourth Campus in Singapore

The Culinary Institute of America started on the East Coast with its main campus in Hyde Park, N.Y. Then it opened one on the West Coast in Napa Valley’s Greystone. The addition of San Antonio to the mix a few years ago was said to be the Third Coast, situated as it is at the gateway to Central and South America.

Now the school is adding a fourth campus, one with a coast far from the United States. The new school is in Singapore, and it will take on the CIA name in January.

In many ways, the history of the new school is reminiscent of the way in which the San Antonio campus began, says Mark Erickson, vice president for continuing education.

In San Antonio, the school began as the dream of Kit Goldsbury, who owned the Pearl Brewery and wanted to see a world-class cooking school on the site that would train students from the area. So, he started the school with the help and guidance of the CIA, which eventually assumed ownership.

In Singapore, the school was also started with CIA leadership. The difference was the school’s deal was with the Singapore government, Erickson said. Yet, the school was created with the goal of providing educational opportunities for the country’s students. The CIA was one of a select group of schools to be invited to the Asian country. Others included John Hopkins and Cornell.

In the way that the San Antonio campus is the center for Latin American culinary research, the Singapore branch will focus on the diverse food styles of Asia, from India to Malaysia, he said.

The Singapore project began about four years, around the same time as work in San Antonio. The reason the school didn’t come aboard sooner, Erickson said, is because some of the structure of the program was subject to the ways of the government. And politics anywhere can take time.

Yet all seems on track for the Singapore project, which has many on the school’s staff excited with the possibilities that await.

According to CIA president Tim Ryan, when celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten wants to change up his menu, where does he go? Singapore.

The same excitement can be felt about Saturday’s opening of the new facility on the San Antonio campus and the expansion of programs in the coming year.

It’s a time for growth for the school, and that can only mean good things for foodies, regardless of which campus is close at hand.

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