Rest in peace, Chef Almquist.

I learned today that one of my favorite culinary instructors, Chef Wayne Almquist, passed away this week. Anyone who had a class with Chef Almquist at the CIA would be bound to remember this gentleman, not just for his gregarious grandfatherly demeanor, but because the man had so many epic culinary tales. Personally, I had always felt extremely fortunate to have attended one of Chef Almquist’s very last classes in 2004, a six-week “Product Knowledge” block that was actually my very first class at the CIA. Soon after my “Product Knowledge” block had ended, Chef Almquist became the Ombudsman for the CIA’s Hyde Park campus, a move to semi-retirement that was well-suited for a man who had dedicated so much of his life to teaching others. Among the most fascinating stories that I remember, Chef Almquist recounted a dinner that he cooked for John F. Kennedy at the Four Seasons New York City, just days before the president’s assassination (and if memory serves, I believe that Chef Almquist actually helped to open the Four Seasons NYC, to boot). Chef Almquist was fiercely proud to have cooked for the fallen president, and rightly so. But aside from his litany of kitchen stories, my other memory of Chef Almquist was his staunch opposition to Anthony Bourdain, a person whom so many of my classmates had clearly admired. However, Chef Almquist felt that Bourdain’s industry tell-all, “Kitchen Confidential,” was an exploitive, self-serving book that actually tarnished the reputation of professional chefs. It was a compelling point, and I have to admit, I hadn’t really seen that side of things until Chef Almquist had explained it so well. “He reinforced every stereotype that we’ve had to fight against. I met him, but I refused to address him as ‘chef’,” I distinctly remember Chef Almquist saying one day during class. Since then, I’ve always felt the same. Rest in peace, Chef Almquist, you will be remembered and missed.

6 comments to Rest in peace, Chef Almquist.

  • Guy Anderson

    I also had Chef Almquist with the author of the story. He was such a gentlemen and culinary scholar — he had stories of cooking for kings and queens, and it was not a real big deal to him. Stories about current chefs and the industry. Rest my friend, I will never ever forget the way in which you taught; humor, down to earth, ways in which all of us career-changers could follow, but serious enuogh to where we did fine on his tests. Rest In Peace. My friend, you will never be forgotten by the hundreds of chefs you helped to mold…Guy T Anderson, Chef Instructor Le Cordon Bleu, Atlanta

  • I never knew of Chef Almquist, but I, too, was trained by chef instructors with old world values. Based in what you have said, I would say we need more chefs like Chef Almquist working in, and representing our industry today.

  • C. Peckham

    I am very proud to have been one of Chef Almquist’s students in the late 80’s. I am grateful for all that he taught and shared with us. I will always remember and never forget!
    Thanks Chef! RIP

  • Cathy

    Chef Almquist used to come into Cranberrys in Hyde Park and would order his favorite scones (cherry almond) as well as other various desserts that he liked to try out. I did not attend CIA but became very fond of Chef. He always made me smile when he came in and was so such a sweetheart to take care of. You will be greatly missed Chef!!!!!!!!

  • Wow, came across this while looking for Chef Elliot Sharron. Having known Chef Almquist for way too short a time, I am blessed for being amongst such warmth and humor all rolled in such a big beautiful person. For all of you who have commented, regardless of how long ago, it is gratifying to see, hear, feel the universal unassuming impression this fine human has had on so many of us. RIP fine Sir.
    CF, CIA 77-78

  • Joseph Realdine

    Thank you Chef Almquist for the very first words you said to our 1982 Class in Hyde Park.
    “Cooking is Common Sense”. You will always be a legend in my book! JR

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