Culinary Institute of America President Dr. Tim Ryan Hints at New Courses in Entrepreneurship, Opines on Celebrity Chef Culture
As many Toqueland readers know, I’ve been working on a book about the American chefs and restaurants of the 1970s and 1980s. One of the great pleasures of this project is that it’s given me an opportunity to sit down with some of the most important figures in food, and hear their backstories firsthand.
It also gives me a chance to check in on new developments which I did when I recently sat down with Dr. Tim Ryan, president of the Culinary Institute of America. Over the course of about 2 1/2 hours, we had a fascinating and far-ranging conversation that covered everything from how he first got interested in cooking (a legendary Time magazine cover story about Paul Bocuse, whose name now graces the school’s flagship restaurant, had something to do with it) to his role in creating the American Bounty restaurant on the CIA campus, to who his classmates were at “the Culinary” (among them was Susan Feniger, whom Dr. Ryan recalls was easy to spot because she was one of but a handful of women on campus at the time).
All of that will stay in the vault until the book publishes but when I asked the good doctor if there were any new developments on the horizon at the CIA, he offered up a hint of a new column of courses centered on the business of cooking. Though he couldn’t divulge the nitty gritty just yet, here’s the relevant snippet of our conversation:
RYAN: I can’t tell you specifically what we’re doing, but it’ll be big. It’s how we do an even more effective job seating entrepreneurs, because that’s one of the things that starts back in this very era that you talk about [in your book] — chefs as entrepreneurs. And we’ve had great success everywhere from Grant Achatz as an entrepreneur at the highest end to [Chipotle founder] Steve Ells . .. . so how do we help even more people become entrepreneurs and avoid some of the pitfalls?
TOQUELAND: You’re talking about classes that would be more in line with what people might think of as a traditional MBA-type program, but not exactly that.