Greg Silverman '94: An Odyssey

By Kate Larrabee

Some Ithaca College grads follow the straight and narrow path from college to career. Others, like Greg Silverman, find themselves on a more circuitous route.

As an Ithaca student, Silverman studied anthropology and politics. He then went on to graduate school at the University of Wyoming, specializing in Arab-Israeli relations. He seemed to be following a particular path, but then, he says, he became disenfranchised with academia and moved back to Ithaca in 1996. His childhood friend, Rob Cohen, had bought Stella’s Café in Collegetown and was hoping to expand. Silverman bought a 50 percent share of the café, and the two opened a restaurant/bar next door.

In the late ’90s, Silverman sold his share of Stella’s and took a trip practically around the world, returning to Park City, Utah, in time for his brother’s wedding in 2000. A few weeks later, he joined the Peace Corps in Mali, where he spent two-and-a-half years training restaurant owners and staff. He left Mali for New York City, where he enrolled in the French Culinary Institute. Then, in 2003 he returned to Ithaca, bought back his share of Stella’s, and he and his friend Rob also opened Olivia restaurant in 2004.

But, like Odysseus, adventure and a cause lured Silverman away from Ithaca. “You never know when a new idea will come about,” he muses. In fall 2008, he sold Stella’s again and also Olivia and moved to London, U.K., where he says he is “even more immersed with food.”

As a community food worker for the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Silverman creates, organizes, and runs healthy cooking workshops, seminars, and short-term courses for lower-income parents of young children. He also serves as the chef trainer for Good Food Training for London, where he organizes and runs cooking, management, and sustainability workshops for public-sector chefs working in schools, hospitals, prisons, and nurseries. In his spare time, he is completing a master’s degree in food policy at the City University of London—and cooking from scratch every day.

While a return to Ithaca may or may not be in the cards, Silverman’s undergraduate years at IC gave him some enduring insights he takes with him wherever he goes.

“Ithaca College helped me understand that life is in the learning, the living, and the giving, and I continue to live by that each and every day,” he says. “Beyond my endless desire to cook for friends and family, beyond wanting to bring a bit of the simplicity of ingredients and banquet of camaraderie that I enjoyed each and every day when I was living in Mali, beyond simply helping people cook more food from scratch for less time and less money, I simply want to think of food in a different way, eat with gusto and vigor, but, most important, just share food with people.”


1 Comment

This was a fun post to read. I love cooking and I'd never heard of being able to major in Arab-Israeli relations!