Orange Coast College has selected Vice President of Research and Development and Principal Chef for Lazy Dog restaurants Gabriel Caliendo as the College's 2019 Alumni of the Year.
Caliendo – who both studied and taught in OCC's culinary arts program – grew up in his family's Italian deli in New York City and spent years in the industry before returning to OCC to receive a formal education. At Coast he earned certificates in Culinary Arts, Advanced Culinary Arts, and Restaurant Management and Catering.
"I consider my experience at Orange Coast College to be so important to my career and my personal growth over the years," says Caliendo. "I worked so hard to attend classes and complete the program while holding down multiple jobs. It was a very stressful and fast-paced time in my life, and I would not trade it for anything."
Caliendo was a founding partner in Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar, which opened its first location in Huntington Beach in 2003. By the end of 2018, Lazy Dog had 30 restaurants across five states: California, Nevada, Texas, Colorado and Illinois. The company has six new locations planned for 2019.
Caliendo is the creative mind behind Lazy Dog's menu, featuring a fresh take on traditional comfort foods. He often invites OCC culinary students to visit him in his research and development kitchen, and offers advice to aspiring chefs.
"I'm again humbled by the decision to award me with an Alumni of the Year designation," Caliendo says. "It means a lot to me and I am very grateful to continue my professional and personal experience with OCC."