Grad Turned “Groovy” Entrepreneur

Capital Region BOCES Culinary graduate Charlie Nadler, wearing a tie-dyed t-shirt, backward black ball cap,  blue face mask and making a peace sign with their fingers, looks out of the window of a brightly colored food truck with a logo that reads "Cosmic Charlie's Grateful Grill."
“Cosmic Charlie” Nadler, a graduate of our Culinary Arts & Hospitality Technology program, is on the road again—serving up gourmet fare to hungry music festival-goers from their Grateful Grill food trucks.

You could say that a BOCES education is really taking Charlie Nadler places—all over the country, in fact.

As a junior at Mohonasen High School, the aspiring chef enrolled in our Culinary Arts & Hospitality Technology program. Fourteen years later, “Cosmic Charlie” and their team of 15 are serving up gourmet delicacies such as pork and mac burritos and truffled steak frites to hungry music festival-goers from their Grateful Grill food trucks.

“[After graduating from John & Wales University in Rhode Island], I spent a lot of years in restaurants as a line cook, sous chef and certified executive chef. Eventually, I got tired of working for somebody else. I wanted to do something for myself so that is when I opened the food truck,” explained Nadler. “I have always loved music and wanted to incorporate music. What better way to incorporate music then to travel around serving food at festivals?”

The COVID-19 pandemic and silencing of live music events lead to a change in operations for Nadler and the addition of a permanent food truck in Folly Beach, South Carolina.

“[Despite the pandemic], last year was absolutely a good year because people were heading to the beach and looking to get out. And, when restaurants had to go to take-out only we were already equipped for that,” Nadler said.

With the recent return to a level of normalcy and as live music resumes, Nadler is on the road again—having attended 40 different shows and festivals this past summer—while his permanent location operates with five employees.

Nadler credits BOCES with putting him in the driver’s seat of his future and giving him the recipe for success.

“I was able to complete four years of college in two years,” said Nadler, whose skills were so refined upon graduating from BOCES that he took an advanced standing exam that allowed him to bypass his first two years of college. “Chef (Paul) Rother really focused on me and my education and taught me what we needed to know. BOCES helped me tremendously. It was really a great experience for me and allowed me to be where I am now.”

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