Windows on the
World Chef Returns to City Tech
His story is much like others who survived
the events of September 11th. A chance diversion, an unscheduled
delay, or some twist of fate, these were the random acts that
determined who would live and who would die.
Michael Lomonaco, the master chef of Windows on the World Restaurant
at the World Trade Center, hurried through the concourse level
that morning when he happened by a Lenscrafters, which offers
fifteen minute eye-exams and new lenses "in about an hour."
He and his wife had plans to leave for Europe in a few days
and his regular ophthalmologist was booked.
Lomonaco stopped for the eye exam. He survived. Seventy-three
of his friends, employees and colleagues perished. Life since
has been a blur of funerals and memorials and great introspection.
He co-founded the Window of Hope Family Review Fund to help
the families of food workers who lost loved ones on 9/11. But
he wanted to do more.
Beginning this month , Lomonaco returns home to New York City
Technical College, to the hospitality program that launched
him on his critically acclaimed and financially successful restaurant
and television career as Visiting Distinguished Professor of
As a member of the faculty, Lomonaco will be conducting master
classes in the culinary arts and delivering guest lectures in
various courses, including Food and Beverage Cost Control, Hospitality
Marketing and the Senior Research Seminar. He will also be developing
culinary programming for CUNY-TV at the college.
"Michael has maintained ties to the College," said President
Fred Beaufait, "coming back time and again to share the depth
and breadth of his experience. And he has made valuable contributions."
Lomonaco has high praise for the program, its faculty and students.
"The Hospitality Department produces graduates who are among
the finest hospitality and restaurant graduates available anywhere,"
he said, adding that the College is a major source of young
talent for the multi-billion dollar hotel and restaurant industry,
a vital component of the city's economy. "This demonstrates
how the College and the University are an important part of
life in New York City, he said. "Our graduates stay in the city
and contribute to its vibrancy."
And he is eager to collaborate with the faculty. "In our business
you learn to work as a team. I anticipate that one of the joys
of working at the college will be to work as part of a team.
I'm constantly in search of ways to keep learning about the
business. I hope to share some of my skills but what I can learn
from the faculty is probably going to be the greater experience."
The program offered at New York City Technical College differs
from the numerous cooking schools that have proliferated over
the last decade in the metropolitan area. Its students are given
a strong grounding in gastronomy. But they are also expected
to master the fine points of hospitality management. "I tell
people that to run a successful restaurant you have to read
a spread sheet. Reading a spread sheet was just one of the many
skills I learned at the college," Lomonaco said.
In May, he will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from
Ivy, the magazine of the National Restaurant Association, at
the National Restaurant Show in Chicago.
As a young chef, Lamonaco honed his skills and his commitment
to regional American cooking with an emphasis on using fresh
and natural foods to produce dishes with rich bold flavors.
Stints at Maxwell's Plum and Le Cirque led to a seven year run
as executive chef of the '21' Club Restaurant.
Lomonaco draws from his thespian traininghe completed
three years of study at Brooklyn College and embarked on an
acting careerto bring his style of cooking to television. He
has gained an national following, first as the host of "Michael's
Place" on the Food Network and now as the host of "Epicurious"
on the Discovery Channel. He is the co-author of The '21'
Cookbook (Doubleday, 1995) and the author of a forthcoming
book on creative home cooking.
At the time of the World Trade Center attack, Lomonaco's Windows
on the World was the highest grossing restaurant in the country
for three consecutive years.
"To be able to give back to both the University and the city
is a privilege," he said. "Being invited to join CUNY is a great
honor for me, first because I am a graduate of the system, and
because I chose CUNY twice in my academic career. It was impossible
to say no."