Chef Francesco Ricchi, owner of the award-winning Cesco Trattoria near Washington, D.C., was the keynote speaker at the IUP Academy of Culinary Arts Acceptance of the Toque Ceremony held on August 6, 2011.
Born in the village of Cercina, Italy, Chef Ricchi started his culinary training when his grandfather opened a small grocery store in 1929. Many years later, he turned that small grocery store into a successful restaurant. In 1997, he opened Cesco Trattoria in Bethesda, Maryland.
Chef Ricchi has earned dozens of awards, including Best New Restaurant in the United States, Top Twenty-Five Restaurants in North America, Chef of the Year 1998, Best Italian Restaurant, Best Newcomer, and the Zagat Award of Distinction. He is listed among the Washington Post's 50 Best Restaurants, and has been named the Favorite Restaurant in Montgomery County (Md.).
Featured on both the Discovery Channel’s television series Great Chefs of the East and on the Food Channel series Chocolate Passion, Chef Ricchi has also been highlighted in numerous cookbooks.
Culinary students attending the ceremony were inspired as Chef Ricchi shared stories about his passion for food and cooking. As he spoke about his life’s journey in the restaurant business, he emphasized the passion and dedication to the profession that is required to be a successful chef. He reminded the students to never stop learning even as they head off to externship, their final graduation requirement.
Of the ninety-three students accepting the toque, sixty-two will be doing their externships in the United States, three will be going to Switzerland for the twelve-month DCT International Hotel and Business Management School European Diploma and Externship Program, and twenty-seven will continue on to the Baking and Pastry Arts program.
Some of the properties that are anticipating the arrival of IUP culinary externs in the fall include Biltmore Estates, Asheville, N.C.; Boca Raton Resort, Boca Raton, Fl.; The Breakers, Palm Beach, Fl.; The Homestead, Hot Springs, Va.; Kiawah Island Resort, Kiawah Island, S.C.; Marriott New Orleans, La.; Mountain Air Country Club, Burnsville, N.C.; Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Farmington, Pa.; Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo, Fl.; Pinehurst Resort, Asheville, N.C.; Aramark; and Penn State Food Service.