Cook Up a Career
THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA
The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) was founded in 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut, to provide culinary training and careers for returning veterans of World War II. Today, more than 150 veterans from all branches of the military enhance the college’s student body and bring much-valued diversity and life experience to its main campus in Hyde Park, New York. The CIA also has a campus in San Antonio and one in St. Helena, California.
The CIA offers associate degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts, and bachelor’s degrees in management, culinary science, and applied food studies. Bachelor’s degree students can also pursue concentrations – similar to minors – in farm-to-table cooking; Latin cuisines; Asian cuisines; advanced wine, beverage, and hospitality; intrapreneurship (business innovation within an organization); and advanced concepts in baking and pastry.
A VETERAN STUDENT | CORY CHRISTOPHERSON
“I was in school within a month of finishing my Army contract,” says CIA senior Cory Christopherson. “The Department of Veterans Affairs and the veterans’ services at the CIA were awfully helpful in making the process a smooth transition.”
The college’s commitment to the military made it easy for Christopherson to choose to enroll. He is majoring in culinary arts management. “The CIA is clearly the best culinary school in the country,” he says. “The history of the CIA and its background of service to military men and women made it an obvious choice.”
Christopherson says he became interested in the CIA while he was serving as a non-commissioned officer in both the Army Reserve and on active duty. He spent his military career as a healthcare specialist and civil affairs specialist. “I was still on active duty when I found out about the CIA and I knew from then on, I had to go,” he said. Once he graduates, he will work toward his career goal of opening his own restaurant.
A SUCCESSFUL GRAD | KAMAL GRANT
Kamal Grant graduated from the CIA in 2004 after serving in the United States Navy. He has put his CIA training to good use: Sublime Doughnuts, his shop in Atlanta, was honored as “America’s Best Bakery” by Bake magazine in 2012. U.S. News & World Report included his business on its 2013 list of “America’s Best Doughnuts.”
“When I graduated high school I enlisted in the Navy and served as a baker third class petty officer on the USS John Young,” he said. “It was my first taste of large-scale baking, and I saw how much my shipmates loved doughnuts. The Navy was good for me because it helped me grow up and gave me structure.” The Navy also exposed him to different cuisines and flavor profiles from around the world, expanding his palate and preparing him for the CIA.
“If you want to be a chef you should go learn from great chefs at the world’s premier culinary college,” he said. “I was able to use my GI Bill and the Navy College Fund for tuition. The admission counselors were very helpful and guided me through the veteran’s admission process.”
Sublime Doughnuts is now expanding into an empire, with a branch in Bangkok, Thailand, and franchise opportunities throughout the United States, Middle East, and Far East.
“I got so much out of my time at the CIA,” said Grant. “You’re surrounded by like-minded people – all who have a passion for food. You learn so much technique that you leave with a well-rounded education and a strong set of skills. The training and the background I received at the CIA gave me the tools to become a great chef. The lessons I learned – especially about using the best possible products and plate presentation – I still use every day. My customers always mention how beautiful the donuts look. Pastries are not just about baking, they also represent culinary art.”
Separate from its degree programs, The Culinary Institute of America also partners with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) to teach the organization’s members how to cook healthier food to improve their health and quality of life. Wounded Warrior Healthy Cooking Boot Camps are scheduled several times a year at the college’s New York, Texas, and California campuses. Some WWP Boot Camp offerings include classes with both veterans and their spouses or healthcare providers.
This article appeared in the May-June 2015 issue of Search & Employ Magazine