Dina Altieri prepares beef filet during her Chef Educator of the Year presentation of
the sauté method and the production of pan sauce.
national convention, best describe the Chef
Educator of the Year.
Along with her passion, other notable
attributes mentioned were toughness,
fairness, warmth, character and integrity.
Her students’ continuing successes
demonstrate her ability to bring out the
best in them, challenging them to excel in
everything they do.
A JOURNEY TO THE WINDY CITY
Altieri started her career in New York,
working in the industry and going to culinary
school. She earned an associate degree in
occupational studies and was salutatorian
for her 1991 graduating class at The
Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park,
N. Y. She graduated second in her class, with
perfect attendance. She was the youngest
member of the CIA’s Alumni Council, serving
five years during which she worked on
recruiting, fundraising and alumni affairs.
She went on to hold positions as sous chef
and executive chef, cooking coast to coast
for multiple catering operations, restaurants
and special events, including at the James
Beard House and for the Academy Awards.
She worked as sous chef at Fino, Torrance,
Calif., 1992-1994, and was executive sous
chef at Descanso, Hermosa Beach, Calif., in
1994, and executive chef for More Than a
Mouthful Catering Company, Los Angeles,
Altieri then became a culinary educator,
working as a chef-instructor, externship
coordinator and, ultimately, department
chair at the California School of Culinary
Arts, Pasadena, Calif., 1997-2002. She then
joined the staff of New England Culinary
Institute, Montpelier, Vt., from 2002 to 2008,
working her way up from chef-instructor to
associate dean. Not content to rest on her
laurels, she went back to the classroom as
a student, and graduated summa cum laude
from Johnson State College, Johnson, Vt., with
a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts in 2007.
In 2008, she moved to Chicago, where she
is active in ACF Windy City Professional
Culinarians Inc. She first joined the staff
at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of
Chicago, then moved on to Kendall College,
where she is currently a chef-instructor,
continuing her professional journey of
guiding young and not so young culinary
students to excellence. She received
Kendall’s Award for Excellence in
Teaching in 2010.
Altieri is a regular master class presenter
for Foodservice Educators Network
International, has contributed to Chef
Educator Today, and is a featured chef in
A Woman’s Place Is in the Kitchen: The
Evolution of Women Chefs (Van Nostrand
Reinhold Company, 1997) and In Mother’s
Kitchen: Celebrated Women Chefs Share
Beloved Family Recipes (Rizzoli, 2005),
both by Ann Cooper.
THE CRAFT OF TEACHING
The culinary world, and teaching in
particular, is close to Altieri’s heart. She has
coached student culinarians in several ACF
Knowledge Bowl competitions, and three
of the teams earned national titles, in 2007,
2010 and this year in Dallas.
“Chef-educators practice the craft of
teaching as they transition from professional
chefs to chef-educators,” Altieri says.
“It has been rewarding to bring my students
close to the foodservice profession and show
them a relevant skill set. Through their learning
process, I have become a better chef.”
Throughout the years, her students have
had much to say about their instructor.
One student was “constantly stimulated.”
Another said, “I will always remember her
and what she showed me.” And another,
“Great teacher.” One said, “Amazing teacher,
very passionate about her work, loves to help
and teach.” And, “Chef Dina is incredible.
You rule. Your class is hard as hell, but more
useful than I could ever imagine.”
As an educator, there is no better
compliment than that: You were hard as
hell, and I learned.
Tina Powers is baking/pastry coordinator/
instructor at Oregon Coast Culinary
Institute, Southwestern Oregon
Community College, Coos Bay, Ore.,
and a member of ACF Bay Area Chefs
Association of Oregon.