Graduation March 2019
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Joanna Basinger - Graduation Speech
Well guys! We made it! I don’t know how some of us, even myself at times survived this last term, but we did it, so first of all congratulations! It’s amazing what can happen in a span of three years though. Before I started attending LeNotre, I was lost, and didn’t even think it would be possible for me to even go to culinary school. However, I knew that I had dreamed of becoming a chef and owning my own restaurant since I was little. Instead of watching Sesame Street, I would watch Yan Can Cook and play restaurant with my older sister almost on the daily, making menus and drawing out restaurant plans.

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Like many gathered here today, my dream is to become the best chef, but not only become the best chef but to become the best teacher to my friends, family, and those who will come to work under me. As we leave the comfort of our school, journey into uncharted lands, and make our way up in the culinary world, let’s not forget to remember our beginnings, and stay humble to those seeking knowledge of the culinary world. We are only as good as the crew that is behind us and supporting every step we take. Mistakes are prone to happen, but how we deal with those errors will classify the chef we are.
Not every recipe, tasting and plating will be perfect, but that’s okay. We will grow and learn from them. There are many things we cannot learn in a school setting and the only way to learn those ways to experience them first hand. To become a chef, we have to be a certain type of person to overcome the obstacles that present themselves, but not only to overcome them, but to completely conquer them. A great chef once said to me “A diamond cannot be made without pressure.” Lets not forget that saying when we are faced with pressure of a busy service, or busy days following up to a very important meeting or wedding. That same chef has taught me that it’s not perfect we throw it away. That when we place something on a plate not only are we presenting the food but who we are as chefs.
The beauty of what we have chosen to do for a career is that it is a universal language. No matter where you go, if you say you are a chef, people find new respect for you. It is one of the few things that people understand. Another beautiful thing about the culinary world is that you never truly stop learning. You might become a master of a cuisine, but there is always going to be one new technique, cut, or style that you will have to learn.
The path that we have decided to follow won’t always be the easiest, especially on holidays, anniversaries, or special events. But let’s not forget the burning passion that has driven us to pursue such a difficult career.
Many have spoken about how they will run their kitchen when they become an executive chef or what type of style of cooking they will do. But few will ever think about the legacy they will leave behind. How will someone remember you? By running a kitchen with and iron fist or being a compassionate person who truly cares about their culinary team and takes their time to know everyone individually. Leave a legacy that will make others take the same path you have and help ignite the torch that will be passed onto those who come after you. There will be one day as we fade out and the new generation of chefs fades in. Let create something that will drive them to perfect an already perfect recipe.
After high school, I started to think that going into Culinary Arts was an unrealistic goal as it’s not only a tough career, but one that isn’t always financially stable. But even though I was scared, I realized that life shouldn’t be about making money, but doing what you love. Because of this, I was sure that I wanted to go to culinary school and decided to take a chance. Which is what everyone in this room did.
There will be moments in this industry where you will want to give up. You’ll think you’re not good enough or that you’re in way over you head, but don’t listen to that. Know that even the greatest chefs started somewhere and had those very same thoughts. Instead of giving up, they pushed through it.
We’ll gain a lot of scars, have a lot of doubt, but most importantly, gain a lot of knowledge and fulfillment in our choice. It’s time for us to venture to places we have never been, to go further than we have ever gone, to dream bigger that we have ever dreamed, and never give up. We have made it this far. My hope for all of my fellow classmates is that you follow your passion and put your own stamp on it. We’re fighters, we’re warriors and will get through anything scars and all. Never give up, this is your dream, so live it.
Richard Temple - Graduation Speech
Good Morning, welcome students, chefs, family and friends.

It is with great pride that I stand here before you.  I feel overwhelmed and humbled to have been chosen to deliver one of your graduation speeches today.  Several of the people in this room know me very well and with that comes the knowledge that I don’t particularly like to speak in front of people.  Do I talk a lot, yes, in front of large groups, not my favorite thing.

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But for today’s special occasion, I feel compelled to tell you a short version of my story. Three years ago, I was sitting in the amphitheater on campus listening to Ellen and Alicia express what culinary school could do for you. Specifically, what LeNotre could do for you. While I had been a lifelong lover of food and cooking, I wasn’t sure that this was the right step for me. I was in my mid-thirties, in the midst of an established 13 year career and newly married to my wonderful husband. By all accounts, I should have been more than happy with life. But I wasn’t. I had no passion for my work or anything I had previously worked towards. But during that evening on campus, something started speaking to me on a deeper level. Could food be my key to happiness. Could LeNotre be the conduit and education I need to get me to the next level in my professional life. For that night, they were just questions with no answers.
The next day I went back to my job that paid the bills and I grumbled all the way. Throughout the next few days I started thinking harder and harder about taking the leap. To help with those thoughts and questions I started bugging the hell out of my closest circle of friends. Over and over I asked this row of people “do you think I can cook?” “is my food good?” “am I crazy?” Of the hundred or so times I asked these questions, they only had one response. Yes! And if they ever said No, I just gave them more wine.
With my confidence in choices and ability growing, I attended two more open houses. I asked a lot of questions. And ultimately signed on the dotted line to start culinary school. Of course this now meant that I had also decided to resign from my career to start a new one. Cue the flood gates of fear and nerves. With decisions made and plans in motion, I walked in for the first day of classes at LeNotre. I had never really felt old in my life until that first day. Looking around at a room full of 18 somethings wasn’t ideal but I knew that I was there to complete a task. A business transaction if you will. The goal was to show up every single day, complete every task and do it to the best of my ability. The actions of those around me had no bearing on my outcome whatsoever. And let me tell you, there were a few times where I wanted to put some of these people in time out like a parent.
Through the course of the next few terms I met Luz Maria and Andreza. These two ladies would become my close friends and my best competition. Now the actions of others absolutely affected my outcome as we drove each other to be better and wiser each and every day. Layer into that a few key players in Chef Jean, Chef Pascal and Chef Olivier you have the magic key for learning. And it took all parts to get us there.
You will never stop learning in your career. Whether that be in food or a different field. I am now pushing 39 and I learn something new about food every single day. Whether it be ingredients, techniques, or plating styles, you will continue to build on your education every single day. When you stop doing that is when you will find yourself sitting in an amphitheater somewhere wondering what your next life move will be. Learning and growing is key. Both Personally and professionally every day.
Through the long hours and many projects over the last two years, I have been able to keep my grades up, successfully start my personal business (Richard Temples Private Chef Events) and be named the new Resident Chef of Sur La Table CityCentre. While a big part of that success was the desire and ambition within myself, the rest of that strength came from good teachers, fellow students that push each other in good ways, and an amazing circle of friends and family.
So in closing I guess I want to say, If you don’t like where you’re heading do something about it.
Be respectful in your new endeavors to your co workers.
Be kind to those below you and next to you.
Never stop learning as the art of food will never stop growing.
And believe in your own natural abilities to be successful.
And to my little posse right here. Chris, Robert, Jacob, Oc, Skye, Richard (lil’ brisket), Monica (my unknowing mentor) I thank you for supporting my dream and helping me grow as a businessman and a person. Michael, I wouldn’t be here without you. So I thank you with all of my heart. Your unwavering support got me here and kept me here. I love you, but I’m not cooking for a month.
And to the 110th graduating class of LeNotre, Congratulations and may we all have the success we deserve.

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