Grow Your Business
Ronald DeSantis, MBA
Certified Master Chef
Principal Advisor, CulinaryNxt
Early Career and The Culinary Institute of America
Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis is at heart a passionate culinarian. Growing up in his family’s local grocery store surrounded by old-world Italian ingredients Ron began his food immersion. After cooking in the US Marines, Ron’s culinary career shifted into high gear when he graduated from the world’s premier culinary college, The Culinary Institute of America. Ron then spent 5 years living and cooking in northern Bavaria, Germany. His time in Germany allowed him to explore Europe and experience many foods and cuisines. Ron returned to the US and landed a position teaching at his alma mater.
In his 25-year career at the CIA, Ron taught several courses including a 4-year stint running a full-service teaching restaurant, the CIA’s flagship 4 star Escoffier Restaurant. In 1994 Ron was selected by the USDA to execute a national training program for public school food service workers. Between 1994- 1999 Ron personally taught over 425 public food service workers in healthier methods of food preparation. Then USDA undersecretary Ellen Hass complimented the quality of the training program.
Following the USDA program in 1999 Ron led the R&D team at United Airlines in the development of healthy special meals for the airline’s domestic in-flight service. All meals were “Heart Healthy” certified by the American Heart Association.
At the CIA, Ron was promoted to associate dean for curriculum and developed curriculum for degree programs and for professional education. Following Ron’s work as associate dean he accepted a position as Director of Education Services. Ron’s responsibilities were the planning and design of teaching kitchens and bakeshops. He was part of the design team for the Colavita Center for Italian Food & Wine, designed the opening teaching facilities for the CIA campus in Singapore, and led the planning for a cooking school in Siguenza, Spain. In 2005 Ron helped launch CIA Consulting, eventually rising to lead this consulting organization. In the next phase of his career, Ron joined Yale Hospitality as Director of Culinary Excellence.
Ron’s responsibilities have included the production of over 14,000 meals each day at Yale. This role involves leadership for all facets of culinary concept design, development of innovative menus and cuisine and training of the culinary team. Ron’s team serves menus with over 85% plant-based foods and led the industry in the development of a “blended burger” that not only tasted amazing, but is 1/3 plant based.
Yale Hospitality is a multifaceted organization consisting of – Yale Dining which feeds the undergrad population, Yale Auxiliaries which consists of restaurants, cafes, and C-stores, and Yale Catering. Managing a culinary team of more than 150 culinarians in Yale Hospitality, Ron has established himself as a leader in the college & university food service sector. As the first Certified Master Chef to enter college & university dining, Ron has changed the format for delivering students meals. His approach has been to think and act like a great independent restaurant in a multi-operational institutional environment. Yale’s progressive approach to student dining includes providing students with information about food and current topics such as food democracy, food security, food waste, and resilient food systems.
Before joining Yale, Ron was Director of CIA Consulting at The Culinary Institute of America. This role kept him on the cutting edge of the food service industry. Ron worked closely with the food service industry’s blue chip companies and has delivered successful results for companies such as, Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Barnes & Noble Café, Hormel, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Duncan Hines, McDonald’s, YUM!, HMS Host, US Foods, and independent restaurants and country clubs across the country.
A noteworthy cross-industry project was with Aetna insurance and culinary celebrities. Ron’s previous work in healthy foods lead to the development of a national “Healthy Food Fight” with Aetna. This $5m national program included celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Cat Cora. The team at CIA Consulting developed the program guidelines, facility set-up, and execution of the “fights” in 10 cities nation-wide.
A 1981 CIA alumnus, Ron has received many citations during his professional career, including the highly regarded certification as a master chef (C.M.C.) by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). He was also inducted into the American Academy of Chefs (A.A.C.), the ACF’s honor society. As a young CIA graduate working in Germany, Ron received silver and bronze medals at the Nuremberg International Culinary Exhibit, and upon returning to the US, a gold medal at the ACF National Championship. In 2002, Ron received the ACF President’s Medallion for contributions to the master chef exam, and The Cutting Edge Award in 2013 by ACF national president Michael Ty, CEC, AAC, in recognition of his leadership and service to the culinary profession. In 2011 Ron was elected Chair of the ACF Certification Commission. In 2010 Ron co-authored “Modern Batch Cookery” with Certified Master Chef Victor Gielisse, DBA. Ron also holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Empire State College in Saratoga Springs, NY.