Forbes Thinks C-CAP Alums are a Good Investment…And We Do, Too!

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Happy New Year, C-CAP friend!

Whether you’re a chef, teacher, alum, donor, industry professional, foodie, or admirer from afar, we’re grateful for your interest and investment in C-CAP and our very talented students, past and present.

At this time of year, as we bid goodbye to 2014 and welcome the year ahead, we find great joy in taking stock and celebrating the great achievements of our alumni. This year, we were thrilled to have Forbes join us in this worthwhile pursuit!

May we present to you, Executive Chef and C-CAP Alum Kelvin Fernandez—otherwise known as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2015! We’re so proud of you, Kelvin!

Kelvin Fernandez

Kelvin Fernandez, Executive Chef, La Marina


Kelvin made a splash on the New York culinary scene when he became an Executive Chef at the tender age of 22. Having competed on Chopped and led multiple kitchens at the age of 29, Kelvin says it’s the same thing that made him a success that keeps him a success—mentorship. Kelvin credits his rise to the incredible training and mentorship he received early in his career from C-CAP and from George Masraff, Marcus Samuelsson, Alfred Portale, and George Lang. He credits his continued success to the mentorship he provides as a leader, making sure everyone in his kitchen feels like a vital part of the team. Kelvin’s kitchens not only turn out superlative and inventive cuisine, they produce highly seasoned and confident young cooks who follow both him and his example.

Carlton McCoy (2)

Did you know? This is the second year running that a C-CAP alum has been featured in Forbes 30 Under 30! Check out Master Sommelier and C-CAP Alum Carlton McCoy’s feature from 2014.

And since we only resolved not to do ALL of our own bragging, here are a few more of C-CAP’s uber-talented food professionals—all under 30!

We think 2015 is setting up to be a darn good year.


C-CAP’s “Leaders Under 30” Round Up


Cesar Gutierrez, Executive Chef, Lexington Brass


Just two years ago, Cesar Gutierrez was a line cook at the popular Midtown-East eatery Lexington Brass. Now, at the tender age of 24, he has worked his way up the restaurant ranks to become Executive Chef. And yet, this trajectory is hardly surprising for this extraordinary young man. On the streets at age 12, he fell into gang life, sold drugs, and ended up in prison. When Cesar returned to high school, he enrolled in C-CAP and was quick to excel, winning a full-tuition scholarship to The French Culinary Institute, and later, the Daniel Boulud/C-CAP Scholarship to the Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France where he spent five weeks learning authentic French cuisine. Cesar has worked at many of New York’s finest restaurants including Daniel, Picholine, Lyon Bouchon Modern, BLT Prime, and Feast & Fetes Catering, and has staged at highly ranked restaurants across France and Brazil. In his new role as Executive Chef, Cesar is mentoring the next generation of C-CAP interns and alumni.


Mame Sow

Mame Sow, Executive Pastry Chef, Harlem Jazz Enterprises—The Cecil and Minton’s


Fusing her Senegalese background with classical French pastry education, C-CAP alumna Mame Sow brought her unique background and skills to an award-winning new Harlem restaurant group that celebrates the foods of the African diaspora, including fusion cuisine (The Cecil) and low-country traditions (Minton’s)—along the way, honing her skills at the likes of Fauchon, Bouchon Bakery, Aquavit, Riingo and Merkato 55, David Burke at Bloomingdale’s, Spot Dessert Bar, and Co-op Food and Drink.


Veronica Rivera

Veronica Rivera, Executive Pastry Chef, Marc Forgione


Not only is this 23-year-old Executive Pastry Chef and C-CAP alumna the first in her family to attend college, she is already focused on giving back. When asked what success looks like to her, Veronica doesn’t mention her meteoric rise to the top working at Craftsteak, Locanda Verde and American Cut, or her culinary collaborations with master chef Marc Forgione (who praises her hard work, creativity, and passion), she replies “Success to me is when you start to influence and change the lives of others; when you become a mentor and a reason for someone else’s success. There’s no better feeling than that.”


Claire Crenshaw

Claire Crenshaw, Executive Pastry Chef, Moto


Rapidly promoted in every pastry team she’s hired to, Claire believes in breaking boundaries and breaking the mold: whether trading the warmth of her native Arizona in a for the chance to work at Chicago’s Quince and then rise in the ranks at TRU, or experimenting with new flavors and creations at Michelin-starred Moto, where she is now Executive Pastry Chef. Recently seen representing the brightest women stars of the culinary world at James Beard Foundation dinners or competing to benefit local charities, Claire is an example to generations of C-CAP students.


Anthony Greco

Anthony Greco, Pastry Chef, Lukshon


C-CAP alumnus Anthony Greco went from living in Los Angeles’s gangland capital, shuffling between divorced parents, to working in a 4-star Hotel, being mentored by Guittard’s own Executive Pastry Chef. Now he is working under Sang Yoon as the Pastry Chef of Lukshon, one of LA’s hottest restaurants, all the while helping to fundraise for culinary arts education for at-risk teens like his former self.


Jelani Port

Jelani Port, Personal Chef to Larry Fitzgerald, NFL player


For the past four years, this 23 year-old C-CAP alumnus has been Personal Chef to football player Larry Fitzgerald, who says “Just knowing where he came from and how hard he’s worked to overcome some adversity in his life is astonishing—and it wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for programs like C-CAP.” Not only does Jelani take seriously the health and well being of one of Arizona’s top athletes, he’s equally committed to bringing that knowledge and excitement into the schools as a chef participant in Chefs Move to Schools, and Fuel Up to Play 60., He also always has time to give back to the program that gave him his start, volunteering as a judge and mentor for C-CAP competition practice. Having risen to the top of his field, Jelani never misses an opportunity to educate the next generation about nutrition and healthy living!


Stay tuned!

5 Ways C-CAP is Sharing the Holiday Spirit

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Holiday sweets!

It’s the holiday season and C-CAP students, teachers and alums across the country are spreading holiday cheer in all sorts of ways!

Extra Special Holiday Shopping

In Arizona last week, Women of Scottsdale in partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue raised a whopping $500 for C-CAP in just two days, when 10% of evening shopping was designated to benefit C-CAP. The special shopping event included champagne, hors d’oeuvres, a DJ, and the chance for shoppers to learn about C-CAP through promotional materials and conversations with our students. JoAnn Holland, president of Women of Scottsdale and a longtime C-CAP supporter stated, “Once people know about C-CAP, they love to give to this amazing cause.”


Working for the Greater Good

In Chicago, students are filled with the holiday spirit! It started with Thanksgiving when they prepared side dishes and desserts for the Living Room Café’s community Thanksgiving Dinner, served to 500 guests who are homeless or may struggle to get a hot meal. In December, they learned to make delicious holiday fare in two holiday baking and pastry classes and collected toys for the Toys for Tots drive.


Showing Our Appreciation

In Los Angeles, C-CAP took time out to celebrate our most crucial partners—our teachers! On December 9th, teachers gathered at DOMA restaurant in Beverly Hills for a spectacular four-course meal prepared by Executive Chef and C-CAP alum Dustin J. Trani. It was a time of reflection on the successes of the year past, expressing gratitude for the wonderful work accomplished, and looking forward to a stellar year ahead—all accompanied by spectacular food!


Celebrating the Achievements of Others

Prince George’s County culinary students know that good food makes any celebration great. So at Gwynn Park High School, they are always on hand to celebrate the achievements of their fellow students—whether it’s preparing and serving meals for the school’s athletic and recognition banquets, or this holiday season, hosting an Ice Cream Social for Honor Roll Students!


Sweet Goodbyes

In New York this holiday season, C-CAP alums have been expressing their gratitude for C-CAP over the years in the best way they know how—with food! These amazing alums and current Monroe students came bearing gorgeous homemade chocolates to help us celebrate the holidays!

And that’s just a fraction of what’s going on in the world of C-CAP from month to month! To keep up on more stories, join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and follow the hashtag #ccapiscooking.


Happy Holidays! And stay tuned!

C-CAP Alum, Cesar Gutierrez

Saturday, December 13th, 2014


Everyday our C-CAP alums are out there doing awesome things and making us proud. But it is not everyday that they get recognized in the national media for it!

This month, we present for your reading pleasure two articles about C-CAP alum Cesar Gutierrez, Executive Chef of Lexington Brass and mentor to many other alums.

Check out Cesar’s profile in Total Food Service here.

Check out this feature story on Cesar and C-CAP in Opportunity Lives.

We’re so proud of Cesar and all our hardworking, high-achieving alums out there. Keep believing in yourselves and what you create. We certainly do!

Visit our Facebook page for links to upcoming features on more alums.

And stay tuned!

Behind Every Good Chef…

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Meghan on the Farm

Remember how we told you that C-CAP’s National College Advisor and Alumni Coordinator Meghan Seradsky was honored with a Legacy Award from Les Dames d’Escoffier? This past August, Meghan spent a week in and around Atlanta, Georgia learning about farms, farmers, farm-to-table, and how to answer the question “Where does good food come from?” Here’s a sneak peek from an article she wrote about her experience:

“That’s not what it’s about,” Mary squarely responds in a tone that suggests perhaps I am a little thick. She was responding to my inquiry about how long it took to perfect her formula for goat cheese.

That’s not what it’s about? For someone like me, a cook in a previous life, Mary’s response is befuddling. What does she mean the formula isn’t important? This is cheese, isn’t it?

I ponder her response as Mary, the beloved Decimal Place farmer, goat-herder and artisanal cheesemaker, opens the gate for her two mammoth-sized dogs to lead the herd to pasture. Fifty snow-colored goats happily follow, ‘behh-ing’ in anticipation.

We continue our tour through Mary’s 40-acre farm, much of it woods, as she points out poison ivy, privet and honeysuckle that the goats will shortly feast on. “You see,” she continues. “Anyone can make cheese. There are plenty of recipes out there, you just pick one and follow it.” She ducks under a cobweb and deftly picks her way through the trees, shrubs and branches. “But,” she adds, “it has to start with the milk. Milk starts with the goats and even that begins with the land, really.”

For someone at the tail-end of a six-day trip shadowing five farmers across greater Atlanta, I should have known. Of course it’s about the land.

To learn more about Meghan’s experience, stay tuned for her full account featured in an upcoming issue of Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s Quarterly magazine!

Stay tuned!

What can we say? ‘Tis the season for pie!

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014


In the spirit of Thanksgiving (and in case you’re panicking that you don’t have a pie to bring to dinner), the alumni association wants to share with you one of their award-winning pie recipes. Because we are thankful for YOU!

Prepare yourself for the deliciousness of Banana Mascarpone Crème Pie with Curry Pineapple Compote by C-CAP alum Stefen Bullen!

And if you make it, don’t forget to share your beautiful pictures with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook!

Banana-Mascarpone Crème Pie with Curry Pineapple Compote


Pineapple Curry Sauce

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp curry powder (preferably Madras)

20 oz can of crushed pineapple

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

20 oz can of water

¼ cup of brown sugar

½ cup of white sugar

1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla


Oatmeal Crust

2 large egg yolks

½ cup brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1 cup Hecker’s flour

2 cups oats

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1½ sticks unsalted butter

½ stick melted butter


Crème Filling

32 oz cream cheese, softened

8 oz mascarpone cheese, softened

2 tbsp ground cinnamon (1 tbsp separate)

4 oz pasteurized egg

2 tbsp condensed milk (not evaporated)

2 packets unflavored gelatin

½ cup Irish liquer

3 tbsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla



2 tbsp butter

1 lb bananas

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

3 tbsp whiskey

1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla


For Sauce:

In a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, melt butter, add curry, and brown approximately 2 minutes. Carefully introduce in crushed pineapple (reserve juice) and stir. Add chili, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then reduce heat to medium-low. Pour in reserved juice, vanilla, water, sugars, and stir. Allow to cook and reduce stirring occasionally so the sugars do not burn. Once mixture has become a thick sauce, remove from heat allowing to cool.


For Crust:

In the mixing bowl, combine egg yolk and sugar. Cream together mixture and slowly add oats, flour, baking powder, and salt. Lastly, add cubed butter and allow the mixture to form dough. Do not overwork. Press onto prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 350F.

Once it is cool, break into crumbs that resemble sand. Add melted butter and press into pie pan to form crust. Heat in oven for 5 minutes and allow to cool completely and set aside.


For Topping:

In a skillet, melt butter and add sliced bananas. Sprinkle with sugar and toss. Remove from heat source, add whiskey, toss and return to heat. Allow alcohol to be cooked out. Allow to cool, add vanilla and mash with potato masher. Set aside.


For Filling:

In a food processor, combine first five ingredients. In a separate bowl, heat the Irish liqueur enough to dissolve gelatin in, but do not boil. Set food processor to blend and pour Irish Cream solution in, allow to become incorporated well. Blend until smooth.

Pour filling into prepared pie shell, add dollops of banana mixture randomly atop of filling and swirl. Place in refrigerator and allow to cool overnight (minimum 4 hours) until firm.

Evenly spread pineapple sauce on top layer and return to refrigerator until ready to serve.

And most importantly…enjoy!

Stay tuned!

Alumni are the apple of our…pie!

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

We promised you pies.  And we delivered. Apple pie. Vegan Pear Frangipane Tart. Pecan Delight. Pumpkin Pie. Banana Mascarpone Cream with a Curry Pineapple Compote. Toffee Sea Salt Pecan Chocolate Chip. Georgia Peach with Pecan Streusel. Apple Pie with Marble Crumb Topping. Gluten-free Almond Crème Pie.

We think we can safely say that pie night was a pie-normous success. But don’t take our word for it—check ’em out!

Pie contest

Many thanks to our wonderful alumni board for making the evening such a success, and to all of our competitors for making such delicious pies!

Did you miss this wonderful alumni event?

You’re in luck.

If you are a C-CAP alum, join us from 6-8 p.m. on December 1st for the C-CAP Alumni Holiday Dinner Party at 300 Jay Street in Brooklyn for a three-course Indian feast, games, raffles, prizes—and a photo booth. What more could a person want?

Holiday invite copy

To attend, RSVP to Meghan Seradsky, C-CAP’s National College and Advisor and Alumni Coordinator, at


Stay tuned!

“Umm, did you say pie contest?” [Hint: we did.]

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

Here at C-CAP, we believe in practice. And pies. And practice making pies. And our alumni. And Thanksgiving! Were you planning to make pies for Thanksgiving? Would you like to practice first? Are you a C-CAP alum? Would you like to share your practice pie with fellow alumni in a warm and convivial atmosphere while sampling other alumni’s practice pies? Did we mention you can win a prize for said pies?

Mmmm, pie copy


This Wednesday evening, November 12th, the Alumni Association is holding its Fall Meeting and First Annual Pie Contest at the C-CAP office, 505 8th Avenue, Suite #1400, New York City, where from 6:30-9:00 talented C-CAP alums will network, partake in lively discussion about “Defining Success,” and judge [read: eat lots of] pie! If you’re an alum, check out the details below and RSVP to Meghan Seradsky, National College Advisor and Alumni Coordinator at For all other C-CAP friends, be sure to follow our live posting of all ensuing deliciousness on our Instagram account, @ccapinc.

The details copy

So get out your pie tins, preheat your ovens and prepare to whip, beat, pulverize [insert your own ambiguously aggressive baking verb here] the competition (or watch from the safety of the social media sidelines). The pie’s the limit!


Stay tuned!

Marathons, Secret Recipes, Philly on Fire, and Dining with the Mayor in AZ: Four Ways to Support C-CAP this Week!

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Just when you think things can’t get more interesting, we have a week like this one! Have you been waiting to support C-CAP in its 25th year of transforming lives through culinary arts? Well, this week we have four amazing chances for you to do just that!

C-CAP DC Alum and Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy Runs the NYC Marathon for C-CAP

Because passing the Master Sommeliers exam (“hardest test in the world”) wasn’t quite hard enough, alum Carlton McCoy is running the NYC Marathon for C-CAP this Sunday, November 2nd! Show your support by contributing to his fundraising page, or making a poster and joining us to cheer him on! We couldn’t be prouder of this determined alum.

Carlton (1)



Dominique Ansel Launches His New Cookbook, The Secret Recipes, and Chooses C-CAP to Benefit from Proceeds

Have you been as obsessed with the cronut as the rest of us? Then you won’t hesitate to purchase this stunning new cookbook from Dominique Ansel in which he reveals his secret recipes—including how to make your own cronut at home! Purchase a personalized copy and $10 of the proceeds goes directly to C-CAP. Isn’t that a sweet way to contribute?

Dominique Ansel



C-CAP Philly Fires Up the Culinary Scene with Their Annual IGNITE Benefit

If you’ve been following us on Facebook or our blog, you’ll know that our Philadelphia program is on fire! Support this wonderful program by buying a ticket to IGNITE: Firing Up Tomorrow’s Chefs this Monday night, November 3rd at The Dorrance H. Hamilton Enterprise Center for Culinary Arts at 6pm. Guests will enjoy a walk-around tasting of culinary creations from some of Philadelphia’s best chefs, assisted by C-CAP students, while sipping superb wines and craft beer. With food from 12th Street Catering, Alla Spina, Blackfish, Brûlée Catering, Classic Cake, Ela, Evergreen Cheese, The Night Kitchen, Restaurant Cerise, and Sbraga, it’ll be the hottest event in town, and your support of C-CAP is guaranteed to make you feel warm and fuzzy.

Feast Under the Harvest Moon with C-CAP Arizona…and Mayor Stanton of Phoenix!

What’s that? You’ve never dined al fresco under the Harvest Moon with the mayor of Phoenix? Well, we recommend that you grab this once in a lifetime opportunity!

Buy your tickets today for this unique dining experience under a full moon in central Phoenix this Thursday, November 6th. Located in the gardens of the PHX Renews property, guests will enjoy a cocktail hour followed by a three-course dinner of local, seasonal cuisine prepared by some of Arizona’s up and coming chefs and C-CAP alumni with Arizona wine pairings. What a night to remember!

No matter which way you choose to support C-CAP this week, we are grateful to have you participate. Have an exciting week, and—

Stay tuned!

Sweet & Savory Spectacular Wows Los Angeles all to Benefit C-CAP: By special guest blogger, Lorri Wressell, Career Advisor and Event Planner, Los Angeles

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Ribbet collage

Taste Taste Taste – is the best way to describe C-CAP LA’s Sweet & Savory Spectacular this past Sunday, October 19th, at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of California-Los Angeles. From Bucato‘s focaccia to the legendary Pink’s Hot Dogs to the LUXE Hotel’s shrimp street food to Jonathan Club‘s crispy hand cut Ahi tuna, every dish was more divine than the next.

There could not be a more impressive array of culinary talent, assisted by our very own C-CAP students and grads, gathered for this event, including amazing  top LA restaurants Acabar, Angelini Osteria, Tavern, Jar, Chinois on Main, Connie and Ted’s and many more. Go to the S&SS Facebook Page for a full list of the star participants at, along with more fantastic photos at

The Sweet & Savory Spectacular had something for everyone including an exciting cooking challenge starring our own C-CAP alumni, wine “how to” classes, and a Tea “Ching” class. The enthusiasm of the crowd was matched only by that of the participants and volunteers who graced the event. Our “Spirit Garden” proved to be the place to see and be seen with beautiful wines, spirits and robust local brews, where the crowd enjoyed toasting our C-CAP high school students.

Guests also raved about the amazing auction with prizes such as “Magical nights in Laguna with Dinner for Six at Broadway by Amar Santana (YES a wildly successful C-CAP grad!), as well as dinners atlocal restaurants, classic and valuable cookbooks, a private wood fired dinner for you and your best friends prepared by celeb-chefs, and so much more.

A BIG THANK YOU to Eric Boardman, Andy Harris, Terrie Cooper, Ann Flower, Steven Yamin, Gloria Mandel, Dalia Miller and other LA Advisory Board Members who contributed enormously to the fabulous success of this benefit! And All proceeds go to our wonderful programs and scholarships benefitting our talented C-CAP students.

And, of course, President Susan Robbins gives a HUGE thank you to our amazing LA Staff – Mitzie Cutler, Lorri Wressell, Lisa Fontanesi and Susan Fine Moore – who organized this sweet and savory spectacular!

Read more and check out these pics at

Why Lunch is the Most Important Meal of the Day

Friday, October 17th, 2014


In the spring, we brought you this story from our Philadelphia program of C-CAP students from Randolph High School winning a competition to provide a healthy and tasty entrée for school lunches. (Don’t remember that post? Read it here.)

We promised we’d update you when their Soul Food Chicken Wrap made its way onto the trays of Philly highschoolers—and that day has come! Check out some of the amazing press on their fantastic achievement:

“Students Have a Voice in School Lunch, Too” from The Vetri Foundation

The Culinary Voice: Students Design Healthy New School Lunch Menus from FoodFitPhilly

The school lunch revolution is in full swing, not only in Philadelphia but in Boulder, Colorado as well! C-CAP alum Natalie Quinn of our Hampton Roads program is a production cook in the Boulder City School District. Check out the amazing things they are doing with school lunches in her district:

“I am a production cook for Boulder Valley. We currently have three kitchens that feed the entire 48-school district. The school I was at last year produced 2,500 meals a day for 17 schools. We cook as much from scratch as possible, sometimes thousands of potatoes at a time. We cook local, free-range chicken that is never frozen and receive our ground beef fresh as well. Both our chicken and beef are delivered in bulk plastic reusable containers that our supplier picks up and refills for us. All three production kitchens compost as well. This is part of our green initiative. I enjoy playing a vital role in improving childhood nutrition. This is my true passion and what I received my Bachelor’s degree in at Johnson & Wales. I have always been grateful for the opportunity that C-CAP gave me to pursue my education and I hope one day I will be able to make an impact in a students’ live as well.”

We’re pretty sure you already are, Natalie!

Are you a C-CAP alum having an effect on nutrition in schools? Let us know!

Don’t forget to eat lunch, and—

Stay tuned!


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