It's not just about the cooking, Tom Colicchio told graduating students Jan. 18 at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.

"You came here to the CIA because you want to excel and be the best at what you do," Colicchio told recipients of associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. "You need to make decisions about what kind of chef you want to be and what ethical standards you want to hold yourself to."

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Colicchio is well known as one of the star judges on TV's "Top Chef" and also as an accomplished chef himself and owner of restaurants in New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and elsewhere.

Citing Sept. 11 and Hurricane Sandy, he urged graduates to be active in charitable causes in their communities, especially in times of crisis.