A few months back, I highlighted the large number of Ephs engaged in that noblest of pastimes, providing new and better ways to consume alcohol. I am happy to report that an equally august group of Ephs are engaged in an equally pleasure-giving field: the culinary arts. Click through the links to read some interesting news stories interspersed in the post (my favorite is the article on Michael Gallagher).
- Much as Edgar Bronfman is dean of the Eph booze contingent, Clarence Otis ’77 is certainly the dean of the Eph foodies, given his position as CEO of Darden Restaurants. But he is hardly the only high level food executive among us. Bruce Davis ’83 is Chairman of the Board of Elmer’s Restaurants, based in Portland. Larry Hyatt ’77 is President and CFO of O’Charley’s. Also on the business side, Adam Borden ’98 is General Manager of Bradmer Foods, a venture capital firm dedicated to growing specialty food companies. If part of his work involves sampling the goods, he may just have the coolest job ever. And of course, Bo Peabody ’94 is part-owner of many local restaurants in the Mezze Group.
- Ephs living in the Boston area can, if they so choose, eat an exclusively Eph related diet (and no, I am not referring to eating only foods culled from purple cows), thanks to Wyeth Lynch ’00, owner of Soulfire BBQ, Jordan Tobins ’96, owner of Upper Crust Pizza (which, unfortunately, is still in the middle of some troubling litigation), Steven Castraberti ’76, who with his family owns Prince Restaurant (known for its infamous leaning tower of pizza), personal chef William Ference ’07, and Margaret Kyle ’99, aka The Kitchen Fairy.
- The State of New York seems to be the hot bed for Eph-owned specialty cheese shops, including River Rat Cheese (Richard Brown ’47) and Eastern District (Beth Lewand ’93).
- Various other Ephs are chefs and/or owner-managers at restaurants around the country, including Roger Harman ’66 (The Gold Standard Cafe), Mitchell Anderson ’83 (Metrofresh in Atlanta), Michael Mishkin ’97 (Eleve), Maral Banks ’91 (Darla’s Porch), Peter Platt ’80 (The Old Inn on the Green), and Victor Platt ’03 (related to Peter, or maybe just a coincidence?) (Andina Restaurant). And for desert, there is always Kara Buntin ’87’s A Cake to Remember.
- Of course, Williams being Williams, there are no shortage of prominent Eph food writers. Professor Darra Goldstein is the founder and editor of Gastronomica, where Eph chef Payson Cushman ’05 (who worked at Momofuku Saam, yummmmm) contributed a recent column. Goldstein helped organize an interesting campus symposium on taste last Saturday. Another professor, Allison Pacelli (math), writes a baking blog. Katherine Darling ’00 published, in 2009, Under the Table: Saucy Tales from Culinary School. John Kessler is Atlanta’s leading restaurant critic, and blogs at Food and More. Sarah Breckenridge ’97 is the Managing Web Editor of Fine Cooking.
- A few entrepreneurial-minded Ephs are operating out of Chicago. Former restaurateur Peter Ireland ’98 now employs his skills as Associate Director of Social Enterprise at Inspiration Corporation, where he helps train homeless and low-income workers entering the food service industry. Meanwhile, Pamela Volpe Jelaca ’91 co-founded GoPicnic, which sells healthy boxed meals. Andrea Nadel ’94 is another Eph entrepeneur of note: her company, Gourmet Walks, offers culinary walking tours in San Francisco.
- All of those restaurateurs, of course, need to get their raw materials from somewhere — why not fellow Ephs? For starters, there is oyster fisher / distributor Chris Sherman ’07, organic farmer Kristen Wilmer ’04, and Michael Gallagher ’06, who runs the cleverly-named Square Roots Farm in nearby Clarksburg. Chris Kurth ’96 runs Siena Farms in Sudbury, MA, Dean Cycon ’75 supplies free trade coffee beans via Dean’s Beans, Topher Sabot ’99 (among others) is involved with Williamstown’s Cricket Creek Farm, and Eliot Coleman ’61 runs Four Seasons Farming. Unfortunately, long-time Eph dairy farmer John Malcolm is now retired, and instead serves in the Vermont House of Representatives. For those who prefer something fresher than KFC, Derek Sasaki ’98 can provide via My Pet Chicken.
- A few additions since this was first posted: Frank Uible ’85 is a partner in Pi on Wheels, and Bryan Baird ’89 has a BBQ restaurant in Yokohama, Japan.
If anyone is aware of any notable omissions, let me know and I will update this post accordingly. It’s fun to compile these lists, but also instructive. So many Ephs lament the fact that their only options after college seem to be grad school, consulting, or investment banking. But as evidenced by this post (as well as the prior post on Ephs in the alcohol industry) many, many Ephs are doing really interesting things in a wide variety of fields, in particular entrepreneurial fields. How cool would it be for Williams to bring back to campus as many Ephs engaged in the gastronomical industry as possible for a weekend-long discussion of careers in those fields (and by the way, if they are showcasing their wares, I’m there!). It would certainly be instructive for undergrads, but also for the alums themselves — an organic farmer, venture capitalist, CEO of a restaurant chain, chef, and food writer could all stand to learn something from other Ephs who have succeeded in different aspects of the production / consumption / analysis chain.
Or failing that, OCC could create some type of resource, web-based or otherwise, geared towards bringing alums and students with a common interest in the gastronomical arenas into closer contact. And the same thing could happen in a wide variety other fields / industries that rarely make it onto undergrads’ radars. I’d love to see OCC take the great raw material in the alumni database (which was my primary, although not exclusive, resource for finding the alums I listed above) and create a series of highly targeted, interactive mini-networks, featuring interested alums as well a continually updated list of links to / blurbs containing crucial information provided by those alums and pertaining to getting started in their field of interest. Perhaps OCC is doing so already, but I don’t get that sense …