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Restaurant owner Named New Head of GRCC's Secchia Institute for Culinary Education

Grand Rapids Community College announced today that Daniel Gendler, owner and President of San Chez A Tapas Bistro, will become the next director of the College’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education beginning in fall semester 2011. 

Mr. Gendler began his culinary education at GRCC and received an award as GRCC’s Outstanding Graduate in 1985. He is currently completing his Master’s degree with Ferris State University. Besides his teaching within Secchia Institute, Mr. Gendler is a member of the College’s Sustainability Council. 

“GRCC offset me on a path to my culinary career after I found aeronautical engineering was not for me.,” said Gendler. “I did not know what I wanted to do that included the artistic outlet I needed while at the same time using my technical background and challenging me in that way. The culinary arts gave me both worlds,” he said.

“In coming full circle, it is fulfilling to know that I may be able to continue the legacy of this program for others and ‘payback or forward’ if you will.”

Gendler has always had a jump on local restaurant trends. San Chez was one of the first restaurants in the region to offer the Spanish “tapas” menu and one of the first to reuse an old office building downtown for a new purpose. Gendler’s restaurant has been committed to sustainable use of resources and local food purchasing since the day it opened. He will bring these skills to the college.

“We are so fortunate to have an individual who has extensive teaching experience, while demonstrating culinary excellence, sustainability knowledge and entrepreneurial success for our students,” said GRCC Dean Fiona Hert. “Add to this numerous awards in each of these areas and you’ve got an unbeatable combination.”

Gendler replaces Randy Sahajdack, who has been head of the program since 2002, and is retiring.

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 32,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.