The faculty, staff, students, and trustees of The Culinary Institute of America mourn the passing of CIA ambassador and beloved former instructor Joseph Amendola.
Paul Prudhomme called him the “teacher that teaches the teachers.” Author Marion Cunningham paid tribute to him in The Fanny Farmer Baking Book. But to everyone who was ever fortunate enough to know him at the CIA, Joe Amendola was “Mr. A.”
An honorary alumnus of the CIA, Mr. Amendola was with the college since the very beginning, helping establish the newly founded New Haven Restaurant Institute (later The Culinary Institute of America) and becoming the school’s first baking instructor in 1948. In his 60-plus years with The Culinary, he was acting president, senior vice president, director of development, dean of students, faculty member, andsince 1989senior ambassador. He was one of the true mainstays of the college over the past six decades, and was instrumental in the tremendous growth of the CIA as it moved from New Haven, CT to the present home of its main campus in Hyde Park, NY.
During the early years, Mr. Amendola played a major role in establishing the college’s education programs, developing the curriculum, and setting up the baking and pastry program. He was responsible for ensuring that the facilities were properly equipped when the college made the move to Hyde Park, and it was largely through his efforts that major funding was acquired to construct the CIA’s continuing education center. All the while, he continued to touch the lives of students in countless ways with his dedication to teaching, his amazing talent as an ice sculptor, his engaging personality, and his infectious passion for baking.
Born on October 19, 1920, Joe Amendola began his culinary career at the age of nine as a pastry apprentice at Lucibello’s Italian Pastry Shop in his hometown of New Haven. Thus began a long and distinguished career dedicated to education and to the baking and pastry arts. While serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1941 to 1945, he continued to expand his pastry knowledge in London and at the Plaza Athenée in Paris. Returning to civilian life in New Haven with Marge, his English bride, he talked his way into a position on the CIA’s faculty. He went on to earn accolades and respect not only as an educator, but throughout the foodservice and hospitality industry for his many accomplishments and endeavors.
He wrote five acclaimed textsThe Baker’s Manual, Understanding Baking, Ice Carving Made Easy, Professional Baking, and Practical Cooking and Baking for Schools and Institutesand founded the product “Cake Mate,” a profitable cake decorating item he later sold to H. A. Johnson, a baking supply company owned by McCormick.
Mr. Amendola was a highly respected culinary and baking consultant, traveling the world on behalf of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army to evaluate their culinary programs. He lectured extensively in Europe, India, China, Japan, Egypt, Korea, and Singapore, among others, and has served as a judge in a variety of baking, cooking, and ice carving competitions. He was executive vice president of Fessel International, a worldwide foodservice and hospitality consulting company, and did consulting work for Food Innovations in Naples, FL and Anderson Baker Co. in San Mateo, CA.
His passion for the food world was reflected in his active involvement and memberships in numerous culinary organizations, including the American Culinary Federation, American Academy of Chefs, Escoffier Society, BalliChaîne de Rôtisseur, National Ice Carving Association, Order of the Golden Toque, Antonin Carême Association, and American Society of Bakery Engineers.
Mr. Amendola also earned a great many awards from virtually every chef’s association in the industry throughout his career. His accolades include 2002 Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation, the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award, induction into the Academy of Chefs Hall of Fame, honorary membership in Japan’s Kyoto Cooking School, the Order of the Dinner Gong from the International Food Service Association, honorary membership in the Société Culinaire Philanthropique, and Diplomate in the National Restaurant Association Educational Institute.
Joseph Amendola held an associate degree from the University of Massachusetts and a bachelor of science degree in hotel and restaurant administration from the University of New Haven.
The Culinary Institute of America sends out thoughts and prayers to his wife Marge, daughter Jeannie, son Joe ’67, and the rest of his family.
Visitation will be on Sunday, January 27, 2008 from 4–8 p.m. at the Woodlawn Memorial Park and Funeral Home, 400 Woodlawn Cemetery Road, Gotha, FL.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, January 28, 2008 at 10:30 a.m. at The Holy Family Catholic Church, 5125 S. Apopka-Vineland Road, Orlando, FL, followed by burial at Woodlawn Memorial Park, Gotha, FL.
The family is requesting flowers or a contribution to the Joseph Amendola Scholarship Fund, The Culinary Institute of America, 1946 Campus Drive, Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499.