Scholarship Spotlight: Ben Pollinger, Executive Chef, Oceana, NYC

On his path to becoming the chef of one of New York City’s premier restaurants, Culinary Institute of America alum Ben Pollinger was a recipient of a JBF Rioja Wines of Spain Scholarship in 1996. “Being awarded a JBF Scholarship was crucial to my being able to complete culinary school,” says Ben, who went on to become valedictorian of his class. “Besides receiving a great education at the CIA, the connections I made enabled me to work in Europe, which in turn put me ahead of the pack to work at some of the best restaurants in New York City.”

Today Ben is known for his work as executive chef of Oceana Restaurant, where his distinctive seafood-focused cuisine has earned him and his team countless rave reviews, including a Michelin star. When not in the kitchen, the busy father of three also donates his time and culinary expertise to a number of organizations, including the James Beard Foundation. “JBF has been like a thread woven through my career, and now it is deeply rewarding to be able to give back and help this generation of aspiring culinarians.”