San Antonio Chef Michael Sohocki '02 Speaks to Graduates at CIA's Hyde Park Campus
Hyde Park, NY, December 4, 2012 – Michael Sohocki, chef/owner of Restaurant Gwendolyn in San Antonio, TX, returned to his alma mater to deliver the keynote address during commencement exercises at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) on Friday, November 30, 2012. Sohocki advised 49 recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts at the college's Hyde Park 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's Hyde Park campus in 2002. The Robstown, TX native opened his own restaurant in 2010 after working for fellow CIA alumnus Andrew Weissman '96 in San Antonio at Le Rêve, Il Sogno Osteria, and Sandbar Oyster Bar. 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 Riverwalk, 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 of the 19th century. (Although he did recently buy a freezer because, he says, it was also against his ideals that food was being wasted if it went bad before it could be served. And, this way, he can continue to support local farmers and ranchers.)
Sohocki is a founding member of the San Antonio Chef Coalition, dedicated to growing food awareness, helping local farmers and artisanal producers, and supporting culinary education and career development.
Michael Sohocki '02 speaks to graduates at The Culinary Institute of America's Hyde Park campus on November 30, 2012. (Photo credit: CIA/Phil Mansfield)