An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 60 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews
Che is a proud graduate of the School of the Art and has featured many SOTA alums, including Britton Bradford, Kayoz Fortune, Ajani Jeffries, Marguerite Frarey, Willie “El Mongoose” Monroe Jr., Willis Ajamu Brooks , James Kegler, Taye Diggs, Evalyn Gleason, Adrian DiMatteo, Biz LaChance and Saadiq Muhammad, Manny Greene and Kaisean Roseboro and Rayla Meshawn.
In this highlight, Che turns our attention to SOTA alum, Cory Wolin.
Getting To Know Cory Wolin from SOTA; An Exquisite Culinary Artist On The Rise
Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
I remember having an energized childhood as the youngest of three growing up in the city of Rochester. My parents really did the best to provide me with the opportunity to explore the world from an adventurous perspective. What I mean by this is there was a lot of encouragement to “go play outside.” This model of free-play resonates deeply with me even to this day, only a much different type.
A more structured piece of my childhood was exposure to work and responsibility at an early age. While some of my peers had their own responsibilities after school, I was getting ready for work. It is a feeling that I remember vividly. I attended School of the Arts from sixth to twelfth grade before attending Buffalo State College and graduating Cum Laude with a degree Sociology. I’ve been residing in Buffalo ever since.
What inspires and motivates you to pursue a career in hospitality and the culinary arts? Early experiences worth sharing?
There are many experiences that I would consider determining factors into what drives my pursuits in the career of hospitality and culinary arts. After many years working in the hospitality industry I am learning the simple fact that hospitality and service industry is a reputable and viable path to pursue. Hospitality is about refinement, cadence and couth much like many other art forms.
My formal education in Sociology lent a great deal of value in understanding restaurants as a series of mechanisms, cultures and structures. Restaurants are social spaces, that is a given. As the Assistant Restaurant Manager of the AK Café at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery I could not be more humbled by the opportunity to engage with these systems firsthand simultaneously. When I enter a restaurant I like to delve deep into the nuanced details, which include the circulatory design of a space and how it encourages a target audience to interact in a certain way. Preexisting typologies of consumption are constantly being challenged in this industry and being confronted with the challenge of relevance in this fast paced environment is the most thrilling.
The culinary art aspect of my work is an auxiliary pursuit of mine that emerged in the more recent stages of my life. Gastronomy, and the art of plating is a concept that really sparked my curiosity after realizing, having then recently returned from Europe, that the space between a diner and a kitchen is an open dialogue. Sustenance is a conversation between the guest and Chef without exchanging any words. Gastronomy redefines ones preconceived notions of what food can be by deploying similar concepts used to describe a painting. My cuisine is very influenced by the visual stimuli of my work environment. I am not explicitly looking at an art piece on the wall and cooking an edible iterations of it, but rather a broader context. Understanding the notion of creation, balance, texture and composition drives my senses into cultivating a dish that I feel comfortable serving those who surround the table. A proper dining experience in my opinion demands the attention of multiple sensory inputs. The smell of the food, the sounds of conversation or lack thereof and, of course, the taste.
Life is full of curveballs. Although we never really get used to them, we’re at least given enough control in how we deal with them. October 17th 2011 resonates with me the deepest as a moment in my life in where I found myself confronted in a situation which I felt helpless and disconnected. The death of my mother really turned my life upside down. I attribute all of my resilience and ability to cope to my social support network. As news spread, I could not have been more surprised with the love and support my siblings and I received. These are the types of experiences that no matter how much thought is put behind the words to describe them, text falls just shy to the feelings of gratitude. I believe that more often than not people experience life altering events that leave them feeling isolated and confused. By being open and vulnerable to my own story, I’ve found others are comfortable doing the same with me. The fact that one can build more meaningful relationships with others out of a darkest time in their life is considerably, “triumphant.”
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
If nothing else, I enjoy packing my suitcase and traveling somewhere unique whenever I get the chance. To date I have been to; London, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Austria, Venice, Slovenia, Greece, as well as a road trip from New York to Oregon and back. I am a strong advocate for solo traveling because one can really get a raw sense of self when they have no one else to depend on.
Intertwined with traveling itself, my interests lie just interacting with people. I’ve had incredible experiences on these adventures that no itinerary can build in. You are never surprised at the level of wisdom that people of all ages, genders, cultural and affiliations can give. All it takes is being willing to open up and listen. Traveling for me can be viewed allegorically. Life is nothing but a solo travel, don’t you think? We have landmarks scattered throughout our lives that we aspire to arrive at. However, how one gets there can be determined by the road, street, and bridge one takes.
I am not ashamed to say that other hobbies or interests beyond work are limited in my life. My line of work is driven by passion to consciously make the effort to improve, innovate and be creative with intense focus.
The Art of Food and Drink is a program that takes place on the First Friday of every month at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. It has been over a year since the program’s inception. The AoFD is a program devised to strengthen the appreciation for the creativity behind the craft. The program overall is designed around giving participants an exclusive opportunity to dive into the world of food and beverage by engaging with many local brands in a way like no other.
All presenters are local and play an integral role in Buffalo’s resurgence. We’ve been honored to host local beer breweries, coffee roasters, kombucha brewers, distilleries, creameries, pastry chefs, wineries, and cideries to name a few. If you know anyone who is interested or wants to know how they can get involved I’d love to connect with them.
What advice can you give to aspiring culinary artists?
Set a high standard of excellence
How can we follow along in our journey? Social media?