The future of culinary arts.

Anyone who has ever read one of my posts (or even the title of my blog) knows that I love all things food and beverage. But this passion goes deeper than delicious meals, interesting trends, or investment opportunities.

To me, food is the ultimate expression of community and creativity. And every person in that space, whether it be a chef, waitperson, bartender, critic, restaurateur, supplier, what have you, plays a critical role in the advancement — and, in some cases, survival — of the industry.

That is why it is so important to invest in the next generation of innovators and leaders. For years, I have been proudly supporting the Diplomado de Cocina Creativa–a 6-week intensive program for young gastronomy professionals at the INFOTEP School of Hospitality, Gastronomy, and Pastry in the Dominican Republic.

This Spring, I was thrilled to partner with the Culinary Institute of America to establish the Diazgranados Family Foundation Scholarship, which will be awarded directly to students pursuing their education at one of the world’s premier culinary colleges.

To be considered, each applicant had to share how they would use their degree from the Culinary Institute of America to give back to their community. And, from the dozens of impressive submissions, two inaugural winners were selected.

Photos courtesy of Greyson Bacal and Chelsea Ringquist

Greyson Bacal was raised by parents who work in the hospitality and event industries, and has always had a passion for locally sourced ingredients. When he graduates in the Spring with an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts, Greyson dreams of owning his own establishment that will feature farm-to-table cuisine and the world of wine, and serve as a community outpost for local diners, artists, and farmers.

After completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management, Chelsea Ringquist was hungry to learn more and will graduate this month with a second Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Science. She hopes to leverage her passion for food and knowledge to pursue a Master’s in Food Science, and, eventually, a career in product research and development in the field of mycology.

Congratulations to Greyson, Chelsea, and every student pursuing a career in the challenging and thrilling field of culinary arts. I am excited to see the impact that you will make on the industry, and to continue to find new ways to support your pursuits.

Danilo Diazgranados is an independent investor in the global food and wine, financial services, real estate, and the hospitality sectors.

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