Ralph Brennan, the third-generation restaurateur and scion of the family that made the New Orleans fine dining experience the internationally renowned gustatory celebration what it is today, has been elected the 21st Chairman of the Board of The Culinary Institute of America. A longtime advocate for the CIA – Brennan was the first New Orleans citizen both to serve on its governing board and to act as chairman. Brennan also had the pleasure to be the keynote speaker at its 2020 commencement ceremony. His son, Patrick Brennan – who attended the CIA – was the first in the Brennan family to graduate from an official culinary institution.
Known for his strong history of leadership within the hospitality industry – Brennan is the past chairman of the National Restaurant Association, the Louisiana Restaurant Association, and the New Orleans Restaurant Association. Ralph Brennan is one of the world’s most talented and respected hospitality professionals,” said CIA President, Dr. Tim Ryan. “His leadership, business acumen, and passion for the food and hospitality industries have been invaluable during his tenure as a CIA trustee. I look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role, as the CIA heads into its 75th year of driving the food industry forward.”
Brennan is battle-tested for the economic and cultural shock currently facing the restaurant industry, having led his faithful family of employees through turbulent times. He had a catbird seat for historic moments including 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 recession, and in the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill he provided expert testimony before Congress.
“I am humbled and honored to be named chairman of The Culinary Institute of America,” said Brennan. “As the college enters the coming year, there has never been a more challenging time for the food and hospitality industries. The CIA has an established foundation for fostering strong leaders, which provides hope and confidence that our industry will continue to pivot and prosper in the future.”
The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group comprises five highly regarded establishments and a catering company in New Orleans as well as one restaurant at Disneyland in California. In the last several years, it has expanded to include the flagship family restaurant, Brennan’s, and the Napoleon House, a historic French Quarter landmark. Winning the favor of locals, visitors, and critics alike – in May 2011, the National Restaurant Association bestowed The Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality Award on Ralph Brennan, the industry’s highest honor for a restaurateur.
Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is the world’s premier culinary college. Dedicated to developing leaders in foodservice and hospitality, the independent, not-for-profit CIA offers master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees with majors in culinary arts, baking & pastry arts, food business management, hospitality management, culinary science, and applied food studies.