SDCI is fairly unique when it comes to culinary schools. We've only been around for 12 years, which is fairly young. We are family owned and have only one campus location.
But since we are relatively small and have no corporate board making decisions for us, we have been able to develop programs that have set our campus apart when compared to the results of other culinary schools. We have created a unique culture that every new student becomes a part of once they step foot on our campus.
In August of 2000, my dad, Harold Meyberg, and my mom, Lili, founded the San Diego Culinary Institute with a handful of students and one very important idea: to build a better culinary school.
They wanted to build a school that taught technique, not recipes; that required each Chef Instructor to possess no less than 5 years as an Executive Chef in a fine-dining environment—an astonishing minimum requirement for any culinary school. Finally, they insisted that their program offer extensive hands-on training, with limited class sizes, in well-equipped kitchen classrooms.
They began with just a handful of students and a firm commitment to this straightforward set of ideals.
Since they founded the school, we have doubled our classroom space and expanded our program to teach the Commis program to our students. My dad isn't here to see what his school has become, but we carry on in his name and with an unwavering dedication to our initial ideals.
We at San Diego Culinary Institute have made it our mission to prepare future Chefs with the skills and knowledge they need to:
- Begin their careers in the leading restaurants in San Diego, the United States, and the world.
- Become Head Chefs in the next generation of top restaurants, and ultimately,
- Take their place among those Chefs who shape the future trends in the culinary arts.
To that end, we hold ourselves to the highest standards of professional conduct and dedicate ourselves to continuously invest in our own personal growth and the growth of our professional skills.
Harold Meyberg, Founder
David Badagliacca, President
Larry Lewis, Program Director
Nothing pleased Harold quite so much as the opportunity to help others achieve their dreams. He founded his school, the San Diego Culinary Institute, for nothing else so much as to help others. It was the culmination of his dream.
Harold was born in South Africa and immigrated to the United States as a teenager, where he began a career in the culinary arts that was to last over 40 years. He studied Food Chemistry at the Illinois Institute of Technology before co-founding, with his parents, the Silicon Valley landmark restaurant and catering concern, Meyberg's. After decades of serving Presidents, movie stars, and the mavericks of the microchip revolution, Harold sold his business and pursued a new career in education.
After 6 years as a teacher in Santa Clara County the California Culinary Academy tapped him to serve as Managing Director of their La Mesa campus. When, after a corporate merger, CCA closed that campus, Harold and his wife, Lili, founded SDCI with a simple mission: to build a better culinary school.
Relying on his extensive experience � as an entrepreneur, a leader, and as a culinary educator � he created a program inspired by the European tradition of the "Commis Culinaire," or apprentice training regimen. He created a program that taught techniques, not recipes; that focused on hands-on training, in well-equipped kitchen classrooms, limited class sizes, and taught by instructors possessing superior qualifications. A program designed around a concept of mentorship and the classic relationship between the Chef and the apprentice. Ideals that SDCI still holds today.
Sadly Harold passed away in March 2004. But before he died, he passed his vision on to his son, David, who refined it and recruited the finest Chef instructors from around the world to bring it to life as the Commis Culinary Program.The Commis Culinary Method� of culinary training embodies each of Harold's original ideals. This latest evolution of his original program incorporates the latest thinking in the science of education, expanded partnerships with the Executive Chefs managing world-renowned kitchens, hotels, and resorts, and revolutionary course work designed to unlock the mysteries of flavor to the culinary student.
As a guiding force behind the San Diego Culinary Institute since 2003, David's love of teaching and passion for the culinary arts has shaped his vision for SDCI, its curriculum, and the standards of excellence with which the Institute has become synonymous.
David's love of education began in college and led him to teaching assignments in California and Italy, where he taught university students as well as corporate audiences. He has appeared as a lecturer in seminars all over the country, speaking on a variety of topics.
He got his first taste of the culinary world as a kid, working in his dad's iconic Silicon Valley restaurant and catering company, Meyberg's, which introduced him to the frenetic art of kitchen operations. Much later, he performed marketing and managed production for the Rhino Chasers microbrew brand; however, the recent focus of his career has been in marketing and business management.
Immediately prior to joining SDCI, David worked in the field of entertainment marketing for agencies in Los Angeles and Milan. He played the key role in creating web sites for Maverick Records and Alanis Morisette (among others), and in organizing cross-promotional deals between Maverick artists and Pepsi, which resulted in a series of commercial spots that aired on MTV. He developed accounts with clients such as Island/DefJam Records, Disney, Mattel, Sony Pictures, Paramount, Atlantic Records, Warner Bros. and others.
His work was reviewed and recognized by outlets such as CNN, the New York Times, VH-1, and Entertainment Weekly; he earned a Clio award, and led his agency team to earn another the following year.
Since joining SDCI, David has led the effort to expand the campus and double its classroom space in 2004 and has presided over a tripling in enrollment. He has recruited key staff � most importantly Chef Larry Lewis. But most importantly, David has taken Harold's vision to a whole new level by spearheading the development of the Commis Culinary� program.David speaks Italian with near-native ability and makes himself understood with his rusty version of Spanish. While not a chef himself, David shares a love of cooking with his students and deeply appreciates the opportunity to learn more about the art alongside his students every day.
As Program Director for the San Diego Culinary Institute since 2005, Chef Larry Lewis has been a driving force behind the rigorous and comprehensive educational standards and has been responsible for composing the instructional curriculum of the revolutionary Commis Culinary Program.
SDCI's President, David Badagliacca, recruited Larry to join the school based on his peerless experience as both a Chef and a culinary educator. But perhaps more important to their collaboration was Larry's fierce dedication to the same ideals on which SDCI was founded.
Larry's 33 year long culinary career has taken him to Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, Portland, London, Paris, Tokyo, Sao Paolo and now San Diego. He served as a Chef and Executive Chef over the course of some 8 years with the Harvey's Hotel and Resort in Lake Tahoe. In that position he managed all kitchen operations, including 10 restaurants, room service, and active banquet operations. He managed a staff of up to 400, including 3 Chefs de Cuisine.
In 1987, Larry left Harvey's to pursue his interest in culinary education. In that year, he joined the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon. His talent in classroom and his organizational precision earned him the title of Executive Chef within 6 months of joining Western Culinary. The school later sold and became part of a large chain of schools owned and managed by CEC, which soon acquired the license to the Cordon Bleu trademark in North America. Larry traveled all over the country to supervise the curricula of all the schools under the CEC banner, and to standardize their programs of study to better match the Cordon Bleu requirements.
After that experience, Larry sought an opportunity to take a new step in his career and to implement new ideas in education. Andre Cointreau, owner of Le Cordon Bleu International, asked Larry to join his organization to improve the standards and curriculum of the original Le Cordon Bleu operation. Larry jumped at the chance. That experience took him to Tokyo, Paris, London, and Sao Paolo, where he helped to design the classrooms and workspace and where he created and implement curricula specific to each locale.
Since joining the San Diego Culinary Institute, he has created the Commis Culinary curriculum, implementing the ideals with which Harold Meyberg founded the school and new concepts in culinary education that he developed with the school President, David Badagliacca. Larry considers his opportunity at SDCI to represent the culmination of his career.
Larry has competed in numerous ACF and International food competitions. He has earned an assortment of Gold, Silver, Bronze, First Place, and "Best of Show" awards in Hot Food, Cold Food Salon, and Ice Carving categories. In 1994, he was recognized as "Oregon Chef of the Year". The State of Oregon awarded him the Teachers' Excellence Award. He is a co-author of Catering Solutions (Prentice Hall Publishing) and authored articles published by The National Culinary Review and Bouquet Garni. He also appears in and produced a series of educational cooking videos (with Wyden-Kennedy).
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