I had the opportunity to interview Richard Grausman, an icon in the hospitality business. Richard is an author, culinary educator and founder of Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). C-CAP provides a holistic and integrated approach to employment for youth and young adults through job training and life skills, internships and work opportunities, industry mentoring and connections, college and career advising, and scholarships, along with product and equipment donations to partner high schools across the country. C-CAP partners with 150 public high schools to support 15,000 students nationwide each year to develop their interest and skills for careers in the culinary and hospitality industry.
Grausman is being honored for his work and commitment at the 30th Anniversary of C-CAP on Tuesday, February 25 at Chelsea Piers. He is sharing the stage with another great honoree, Sarabeth Levine, Baker/Chef/ Restaurateur. Grausman will continue his passion of serving students through his program for many more years to come.
IR: I was thrilled to learn about C-CAP (Careers Through Culinary Arts Programs). What made you start this program?
RG: I actually thought that I could change the way Americans ate back in the 80’s and found the best way to do that was to get into the Home Economic classrooms of our public schools. When I found the student ill prepared for college or the workplace, I set out to empower those with an interest, to develop careers in the foodservice industry.
IR: Did you always have a love for food and cooking?
RG: I always enjoyed food as a child and cooking with the family on weekends. Cooking was a hobby of mine after college and became a serious hobby after taking a few classes with James Beard. In 1968, I went to Paris to see if I could make it as a Chef. I found out that I was too slow, but also found a love for teaching. I was lucky and became the first person to teach for and represent the famed cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu, in America. That led to a 15-year career as a teacher for the school and to writing my cookbook, FRENCH CLASSICS MADE EASY, and then to my founding Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP).
IR: Do you serve students internationally as well?
RG: No, just in the states, although we have sent students to Europe and Asia on scholarships to study and learn.
IR: What is a typical class like for students in the program?
RG: We work with culinary art’s teachers with diverse programs and curricula, so each class is different. Our role is to help those teachers prepare their students for jobs in the industry, so we encourage them to focus on the skills needed for entry. These are both soft and hard skills. We want a student to be prepared to show up on time, wanting to work and learn, possessing safety, sanitation and knife skills and not afraid to use a mop. An individual exhibiting those skills is a valuable resource for any chef.
IR: Any notable chefs involved in the C-CAP program?
RG: Too many to list, but a few are Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert, José Andres, Marcus Samuelsson, Lidia Bastianich, Thomas Keller, Sherry Yard, Jacques Pepin, Michael Lomonaco, Michael White, and Sarabeth Levine.
IR: Have any of the students gone on to become chefs or restaurant owners?
RG: Many. A few who have received notice are; Amar Santana, Lasheeda Perry, Kelvin Fernandez, Marcos Seville, Brian Archibald, Brother Luck, Dustin Trani, Alfred Stephens, Veronica Arroyo, Jocko Fajardo, Ikimi Dubose and Josh Partlow.
IR: Marcus Sammuelson is a very passionate and talented chef. How did you get him involved in the organization?
RG: I met Marcus shortly after he was made Executive Chef of Aquavit Restaurant. I immediately saw his potential as a mentor for our students and enlisted his support. Marcus volunteered for us as a judge at our competition, hired and advised our students for a number of years, and we became friends. I always knew that Marcus would be a good leader for our program and asked him to join our board, where he is now the Co-Chairman.
IR: You have the 30th Anniversary Celebration coming up on Tuesday, February 25, 2020, at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers. What does this recognition mean to you?
RG: It is acknowledgement of the work I have done for 30 years, helping thousands of young people develop careers in the foodservice and hospitality industry and it is a highlight in my career.
IR: Sarabeth Levine, owner of Sarabeth’s, is also being recognized. Her restaurant has been a staple in New York City for years. How is she involved with C-CAP and how did you come to recognize her for her work?
RG: I met Sarabeth while I was still teaching for Le Cordon Bleu. My wife and I live in the neighborhood of her first store and we became fast friends. When I started C-CAP, Sarabeth became a supporter and mentor to some of our students. She became a judge for our competitions and a role model for our female students interested in baking and having their own store one day. Sarabeth is that rare human being, who without any formal training, has made a huge success in a very competitive field. This alone is worthy of our recognition.
IR: What is the biggest takeaway that you want our readers to know about C-CAP and the restaurant business?
RG: The restaurant business is vast and the opportunities unlimited. If you come to it prepared as a C-CAP student is, your path to success is off to a great start!
IR: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me and good luck on February 25. We look forward to seeing you there.
RG: Thank you very much and I look forward to a great night.
How can people purchase tickets? Go to; https://ccapinc.org/events/c-cap-annual-benefit-2020/