#24 Tim Ryan, President, Culinary Institute of America
There are plenty of cooking schools around the country (including the estimable International Culinary Center and Institute of Culinary Education in New York City) but the most prestigious, widely known of all is the CIA(and we've heard all the jokes). A 1977 graduate of the school — which started life in New Haven in 1946 and moved to a former Jesuit seminary in Hyde Park, New York, in 1970 — Tim Ryan took the reins in 2001, and the institution has thrived under his direction. A roster of CIA graduates or former students reads like a history of contemporary American (and occasionally non-American) cuisine. Anthony Bourdain, Grant Achatz, Enrique Olvera, Michael Mina, Charlie Palmer, Todd English, Cat Cora, John Besh, Anne Burrell, David Burke, Roy Choi, Susan Feniger, Michael Symon, Geoffrey Zakarian… the list goes on and on. Under Ryan's directorship, the school has added degree programs in culinary management, embraced modernist techniques in some of its classes, opened a brewery, and launched satellite schools in San Antonio (where Latin American food is the specialty) and Singapore. (A landmark branch at Greystone in the Napa Valley was established in 1995.) There are plenty of great chefs out there who haven't been within a hundred miles of the CIA, but it remains the gold standard for serious instruction in the culinary arts, and Ryan just keeps pushing it forward.