ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — One could say Jason Eksterowicz “hit it out of the park” professionally when he embarked on his culinary career upon graduating from Capital Region BOCES and Schoharie High School in 2002. In a little more than a decade, he made his way from BOCES graduate to executive chef of the New York Mets—with stops at the Sagamore Resort and the famed MGM Grand in Las Vegas along the way.
On Monday, Eksterowicz returned to the region to talk about his experiences with current Capital Region BOCES culinary students. “One of the great things about Capital Region BOCES is it gives you a foundation. It provides you with a foundation to really know what cooking means,” he said, adding, “BOCES provides you the skills to not only conquer the kitchen but conquer the world.”
Eksterowicz oversees a staff of several hundred who prepare the culinary delicacies at Citi Field, where the Mets play, along with several of the minor league stadiums that are part of the team’s farm system. “I never would have imagined when I was in high school that this is where I would be now,” he said during a break from speaking to students in Chef Paul Dolan’s classroom.
Eksterowicz was accompanied on his trip back to BOCES by his former teacher, retired BOCES educator, and chef Nancy Iannacone. “He is top of the line. He had perfect attendance throughout school from kindergarten on. He even came to school when he didn’t have to and he worked for me at a summer camp and never missed a day. At 16, he was able to manage a kitchen that fed 500 kids,” said Iannacone.
Besides sharing his life story and a recipe for a cheesecake treat, Eksterowicz also spoke about everything from ensuring the recipe for a chicken Caesar salad is the same for all 45,000 fans of a Mets game no matter who prepares it, to the proper margin on dishes, to going from high school student to executive chef for a Major League Baseball team in less than two decades.
“You get what you put into your education. You have to work for it,” he said. “Nothing is handed to you.”