The Clarion

Culinary Connections

Retiring instructor enjoys introducing students to diverse culinary experiences

Culinary+instructor+Joe+Gaglio+works+with+a+former+student+to+serve+dumplings+at+a+recent+chef+series+event.
Culinary instructor Joe Gaglio works with a former student to serve dumplings at a recent chef series event.

Culinary instructor Joe Gaglio works with a former student to serve dumplings at a recent chef series event.

Adrinne Oliva / Clarion

Adrinne Oliva / Clarion

Culinary instructor Joe Gaglio works with a former student to serve dumplings at a recent chef series event.

Adrienne Oliva, Editor in Chief

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Culinary instructor Joe Gaglio is hanging up his Madison College apron and retiring at the end of this semester, but not without leaving his mark on his students and the college community.

For 20 years, Gaglio has worked diligently not only to introduce his students to diverse culinary experiences, but to provide the support his students need in both the academic and professional world.

Gaglio’s main priority as a culinary instructor was to create bonds between his students and the culinary community in Madison outside the walls of the classroom.

“Our roots of this college are founded as a technical college, and … by definition, a community college, enriches the community,” said Gaglio. “That’s always been my passion, to connect the chefs in this community to the students.”

Gaglio was the brains behind multiple culinary efforts within the college, including the Chef Series, a culinary exchange program with The Pastry academy in Italy, and multiple trips and culinary tours around both New York City and Italy.

Gaglio was inspired to expose his students to new culinary experienes, as well as advocate for them in the professional world because of his own experience in culinary school.

“I wanted my students to not just get a culinary education, where they are in there in this sort of simulated environment, I wanted them to get out there and work, and meet chefs, and network, because that is what my instructors did for me when I was in culinary school.”

Gaglio’s passion for cuisine began as a child growing up in an Italian family in New York. Being constantly surrounded by delicious Italian dishes was Gaglio’s first encouragement to become a chef.

Though Gaglio knew he loved to cook, he originally thought cooking wasn’t going to be his long term career, which lead him to study English at Columbia Univiersity.

“I was studying English literature, absolutely nothing to do with food. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickenson, Saul Bellow, Henry James, those (were) my chefs,” joked Gaglio.

After realizing that English wasn’t his true passion, Gaglio decided to take a temporary position at Madison College as a culinary instructor. Eventually, that position became permanent.

Gaglio has always been passionate about his work at Madison College, but in 2005, he went into a new culinary endeavor with one of his own students.

“A student of mine in 2005 was from the Bronx. He said the bagels in this town stink, and he opened up Gotham Bagels with me. And he opened up a pizzeria, and his pizzerias are doing great.”

Many might not know that Gaglio’s original partner is somewhat of a local celebrity himself.

“My original partner is Ian from Ian’s Pizza,” said Gaglio.

As the owner of Gotham Bagels and a Madison College instructor, Gaglio has been juggling his two passion simultaneously for years now.

“Everyday you’re in the wrong place. When I’m at Gotham, I’m worried about what’s happening with the students. And when I’m at the college, somebody’s calling me and saying ‘a wall just fell down, what are you gonna do?’”

Though life might be a little less hectic after retiring, Gaglio knows that he will miss his students deeply.

“This fall, when the weather changes, and I don’t get my group of smiley faces who laugh at every joke I say, I’ll miss it,” he said.

The one thing Gaglio wants his students to know is that above all, they are what Gaglio will miss the most about Madison College.

“The college provides my family with a wonderful living and benefits, and I work with wonderful people, but they pale in comparison to the experience I have with the students, which is my most important relationship in the college,” explained Gaglio.

“I want them to know that they are the most important.”

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