top of page
December 2019

113th Graduation Gallery

Culinary Institute LENOTRE® 113th graduating class walked across the stage and into their bright culinary futures on Friday morning October 11th, 2019. With students from Culinary Arts, Baking & Pastry Arts and Restaurant Management – Houston is sure to witness the #LenotreLegacy first hand! Congratulations to all our graduates and good luck!

Jane Stafford - Graduation Speech

     Good morning graduates and guests. My name is Jane Ulmer and I am a graduate of LeNotre Culinary Institute. Hallelujah we made it. I began this journey about four years ago in August of 2016. I was a stay at home mom, homeschooling my three boys. Domestic duties, teaching and cooking was my life. I was deeply dedicated to providing a home for my children no matter what sacrifices I had to make.  

     When my children left the nest, I needed something more. I was unhappy and in my sixties. Finally, it was time for me. My youngest son the philosopher told me, “Mom you can’t change other people, but you can change yourself.” My Middle son the practical one said, “Mom your life has ended. Get a job!” My oldest son didn’t say anything – He was too busy getting the girl. I was an amateur cook trained at home. So naturally the next step was to get certified.


     My first experience with LeNotre was the Chef Club which was great. I was very impressed with Chef Benoit and his Chicken Cordon Blu. My second Chef Club was with Chef Francis who had been President Bush Sr. personal chef. The credentials for the LeNotre Chefs are outstanding. They have so much knowledge to impart. Each one is very particular and demanding as expected of a great Chef. Yet, they all demonstrated great patience. I needed that! I decided to enter Culinary Level 1 as a non-degree seeking student.

     I became aware the Marie LeNotre had written her autobiography, Appetites. I was excited to read it as I wanted to meet her. This way I would able to converse with her. In her book Appetites, she spoke of a time in her own life when she made difficult choices and changes. I thought if she could embark on her own during a time when women really didn’t have equal rights like we do today; then I can too. Thank you, Marie LeNotre, for the inspiration to change my life. During our course of study, we were required to take an elective. I chose pastry. The evening before the pastry class I had a vivid dream. Some may call dreams subconscious though, others premonitions, others the universal consciousness, I call it God. I dreamt I was in a pastry lab with a chef when I heard a voice say, “He is the son of the master baker.”

     When I awoke, I had great peace and excitement for my first pastry class. As I attended the lab, I realized it was the same room that I had dreamt of. This is how I knew becoming a chef was the path of change that God intended for me. I completed a pastry diploma and I am know completing my second culinary diploma. We are greatly blessed to have the son of the master baker in Houston. Thank you, Alain LeNotre, for you are the son of the master baker. Thank you, Marie and Alain LeNotre, for bringing the French Culinary Arts to Houston. On behalf of my fellow student graduates and myself thank you to all the chefs. We love each and every one of you. We have learned so much because you shared your gifts and talents with us. Thank you! Thank you to everyone in academics, admissions, student accounts, career services, the financial department, our Miss Connie librarian, teachers, security, custodians, dish washers, and Rodney. “IS EVERYBODY HAPPY?”

     Our association with LeNotre doesn’t end today. LeNotre has a lifetime commitment to helping their graduates find employment no matter if you graduate today or graduated five years ago. They really care for their student’s future. Miss Katoshia sent me to a job fair at the Post Oak Hotel Uptown. I thought I was dropping off my resume, but it was much more. I got the job! My first interview was with my present Chef Philippe Carpeau of The Grand Manger. Chef Philippe Carpeau has a stellar resume. He has collaborated with multiple Michelin star chefs including Bruno Valette, Sanderens, Troisgros brothers, and Darroze. Chef Carpeaux tells us the secret to success is focus, attention to detail, and speed. If you work to have all three attributes, then you have a winning combination.

     My third interview was with Maîtres Culinaire de France, Chef Jean Luc Royere. Chef Royere has been the head chef for one Forbes Five Star property, a triple Forbes five-star property, and a Quadruple Forbes five-star property. He comes to Houston from the prestigious Mandarin Hotel of Miami Fl. He spoke of work ethic and drive. He said come to work ready to give 200% every day. Meet your challenges with dedication and enthusiasm never giving up and you will succeed. In this industry we are colleagues genuinely delighting our guest with personalized experiences while creating lasting memories. All the while striving to be recognized as the best by continually redefining the luxury experience.

     So, graduates let us strive to be recognized as the best by using this great education of ours to elevate our worlds and those around us. If I can make these changes in my sixties, certainly you in you shining youth can climb the mountain tops. Now, Miss Jane says; get out there and succeed.

Steven Horvath - Graduation Speech

     Good morning fellow students, faculty, family, and guests. My name is Steve Horvath and I’m honored to be standing before you today.Many of you are probably asking yourselves; “Did central casting send over this handsome young man to motivate the group?”well first, let me thank you for those kind thoughts, but as hard as it may be to believe, I am a new graduate here today.

     Being part of this magnificent graduating class is the unlikeliest of places I could have expected to be at this point in my life. And certainly, none of this would be possible without the love and support of my beautiful wife Joy, Thank You My Love! You see, cooking became an important part of my life at a very early age. Whether it was my Hungarian grandmother’s home canned pickles, my father’s Chicken Paprikash, or preparing food out of necessity, the kitchen became a familiar place.


     This is not unlike the reasons many of my fellow students are here before you today. We’ve all come to the Culinary Institute LeNôtre with the common goal of excelling in the Hospitality Industry. Whether that’s in Hospitality and Restaurant Management or preparing the very best foods you will ever taste, we’ve all put in the time and hard work that it takes to get to this point. The only difference for me might be that this opportunity came to me a little later in life than most.

     Having grown up Dayton, OH in less than ideal conditions, and an opportunity like this one would have seemed an impossible dream in my youth. For a glimpse into that childhood let me give you just a couple of my milestones. I started smoking cigarettes at the age of 6, drinking at 8, quit smoking weed at 14, and spent most of my 20’s addicted to cocaine.

     So, for me the path to being here today was long, winding, and sometimes fraught with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. That journey though, is a perfect example of how dreams can come true when you put your best foot forward in all that you do in life. The hardest working man I have ever known was my Father, one of 12 children to Hungarian immigrants. I can’t recall a time where he wasn’t working to support his family. By day he was a hospital janitor, by night he cleaned the floors of small businesses, and on the weekends, he cut the neighbors grass. I have a great deal of pride in my father and in my Hungarian roots. By the age of 18, my mother was married to my father with their first of 4 children.

     They divorced when I was 7 so she was left in the difficult position of having 4 young children to care for on her own. Don’t get me wrong, my father visited every other weekend and paid his child support, but that was not enough to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. With almost no work experience, my mother now had to find a job and get us out of public housing. Working tirelessly, she did exactly that, and in less than 8 years she was able to purchase our first house.

     Unfortunately, those 80-hour work weeks took a toll on her health and left 4 young children to fend for themselves. My parents weren’t always present in our lives, but they did the best they could with what they had. Without their examples of hard work, sacrifice and dedication to supporting their family, I would not be the man I am today. Their 4 children grew up to be a rocket scientist at the Pentagon, a computer network engineer, a jailer in our hometown, and now me, a graduate of the Culinary Institute LeNótre.

     I guess my message to this class today would be that, all things are possible with hard work and dedication to your commitments. If you strive to do your best in all that you do, you will make dreams come true. The measure is not always the obstacles we face in life, the measure is what we’ve done to overcome and learn from them. What example are we setting to those who depend on us most every day? Now go forth and conquer in a way that will make you, and those around you,proud.

bottom of page