by Student Blogger Timothy Having been here at the CIA campus in Hyde Park, NY for almost 3 years, and spending going on 2 and a half of those years a Tour Guide, I find that I am constantly asked the same question. ”Why did YOU choose to come here, to the Culinary”? Now, I am always more than happy to answer this question and the more I answer it as time goes by, the more reasons I find as to explain why I chose the CIA over any other school.
When I was looking for schools my senior year of high school at the age of sixteen, it all seemed so unreal and unattainable. Nevertheless I knew what I wanted and that was to go to a culinary school that could offer me a bachelor's degree. Most programs around the country are certificate 6-9 month programs, so I ruled those out rather quickly, narrowing down my candidates to 3 options: The Art Institute in San Francisco, Johnson and Wales in CO, and The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. I sent out applications to AI and JWU and quickly received letters of acceptance. The CIA application seemed more detailed so I let it sit on the back-burner, I was too excited about being accepted into college! Being close by, I went to an open house for the AI and well, it just didn’t feel right for me. It wasn’t the “traditional college feel” that I was looking for. Soon after, I went to a Wildcat Weekend at JWU in Colorado, and I really, really enjoyed it. I made friends, I liked how the program sounded, I loved the campus (and the distance from home), I was totally sold on going here. I told my dad that I wanted to come here, I am done, this is where I want to be. Then he looked at me and told me something that would change my life.
He said, “I want you to finish your application to the CIA on the flight home, I'm buying tickets to fly us out to take a tour of the campus in 3 weeks. Everyone says it’s the best and if you’re going to go to a culinary school, I want you to go to the best”.
Being from California, it was a big deal to just get up and fly across the country to see a school, so I did what he said.
3 weeks later I find myself in Hyde Park, NY running late through the rain past piles of snow to the prospective student meeting and tour. We sat through the presentation about the school and I ate up all the information like a starving man at Thanksgiving.
Then the tour. I loved everything, I loved the seeing the students in their chef whites or business casual, no one in sweatpants or t-shirts like at my brother’s college. I loved seeing how hands on the classes were and how diverse the student population was. I vividly remember walking down a path to the Student Rec Center, and feeling my sock getting soaked from the rain and unfortunate hole in my shoe. But I couldn’t care less. I knew, I had this feeling that this was where I needed to be. I looked at my dad and said “This is it. This is where Im coming to school”.
All he said was “I told you to give it a chance didnt I?”
Having gone through the AOS program, having been an MIT (Manager-in-Training) for 6 months, and while currently going through the BPS program I’ve come to realize why the CIA is truly deserving of the title of The World’s Premier Culinary College.
The level of professionalism. Yes, we are still students, but we know what we have to get done, we know what is expected of us, and we show that through living up to the professionalism standards set here.
Our Chefs and Professors here are living testimonies to the reality of our industry. And they don’t sugar-coat it. They tell us what to expect, and then how to prepare for it.
The pressure here is intense. We are under the chopping block every day in the kitchen and in the bakeshops; students are expected to learn, produce, and perfect. Nothing less than your absolute best will be expected, and the Chefs here know when you aren’t performing at that level and they will let you know. Your skill, intellect, and even passion will be personally questioned and challenged during your tenure here, and it will make them all the stronger if you answer with strength and vindication.
This is the only residential college in the world that is completely devoted to the Culinary and Baking Arts. That brings together a very select group of students that then create an atmosphere you will never find anywhere else in the world. We may not all be looking to be the next great Chef spoken of around the world, but we are all in it for the same thing. Food. Some aspect of the culinary world has drawn us together and through that we all speak the language, we all share a passion that cannot be hidden, because to make it in this industry you’re gonna need a lot of it. Its something you have to experience to understand.
Just like the Chefs, I’m not going to sugar coat it. The time you spend here will be difficult, stressful, intense, and it will be a challenge every day. But if you are committed, and if you want to turn your passion into your profession, the CIA is, in my opinion, the only place to do that.