Local Chef Delivers Commencement Address To CIA Graduates
Garden City resident Cornelius Gallagher, corporate chef for the five restaurants of the Long Island-based Bohlsen Restaurant Group delivered the commencement address during graduation ceremonies at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) on Friday, March 26.
Gallagher, a 1994 CIA graduate, succeeded fellow CIA alumnus Rick Moonen ‘78 as executive chef at Oceana in Manhattan in 2002. While there, he was named one of the 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine and 10 Most Influential Chefs in New York City by New York magazine.
“Know your goal and plan your path to that goal,” Chef Gallagher told 58 recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. “If you want to be a great chef, work for the best chefs in the world.”
The Long Island native has lived that advice. While a CIA student, he worked at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. After graduating, Gallagher worked for renowned chefs David Bouley, Gray Kunz, Laurent Gras, and Daniel Boulud in New York City and for Marc Meneau at the Michelin three-star L’Esperance in France. He also staged for Ferran Adrià at the famed elBulli in Spain.
He now oversees the kitchens of leading Long Island restaurants including the striking harborfront Prime: An American Kitchen and Bar in Huntington, top-Zagat rated Tellers Chophouse and newly acclaimed Verace True Italian in Islip; neighborhood favorite The Beachtree Café in East Islip; and vibrant H2O Seafood Grill in Smithtown. Chef Gallagher also assists the Bohlsens in concept development and new restaurant openings.
Chef Gallagher urged the most recent group of CIA graduates to continue learning and remain passionate about their chosen profession. “If you are not 100 percent in love with cooking, do something else. There are much easier ways to make a living,” he said.
The Garden City resident, husband and father of two, was born in the Bronx, New York and began cooking at the age of 12. At age 15, he entered a vocational cooking school, while still in high school, where he won the Top Young Culinarian award at age 16 and before enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America.