Friday, August 26, 2016

Humans of the CIA: Asher Chong

by Joseph Haffly, Associate Degree in Culinary Arts, excerpted from La Papillote


                                            Photo courtesy: Arianna VonWeiler


Q:What led you to the CIA?
A: I was living in Singapore where I was working in a restaurant. I have been in restaurants for 15 or so years and I knew that I needed better training. I did a lot of research on the different schools around the world and I came to the conclusion that the CIA was the best option. I had heard about the school from different people, and from books and movies too, but it wasn't until I really looked at it that I knew I wanted to go. I read about a lot of really great chefs that came from here and thought that I should follow the steps they took.

Q: Why did you choose the bachelor's program?
A: I feel that a bachelor's degree is necessary for what I want to do. I am pursuing a concentration in wines so that I can have a good knowledge base to further expand and study. I never expected to pursue something like wine. I always saw myself as a kitchen worker and never thought twice about working front of the house. At some point during my time at the CIA I realized that I really enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them.

Q: What is it you want to do upon graduation?
A: I have no specific restaurants or countries I want to work in. I am very interested in French wines, so getting to go there would be really cool. I enjoy bringing happiness to people. I want to offer a global experience at the table to customers through food and wine. I want to teach people about the wine by sharing stories. I want to tell them about the vineyards and the people so that they can feel like they have been there before. I want to create an experience where the guest uses all 5 senses during their meal. If they experience it in as many ways as possible then it might be more enjoyable. My ultimate goal is making them happy and making them happy makes me happy. This is a win-win situation for me and I love it.

Q: What would you tell any students considering this bachelor's program?
A: Come in with an open mind. Having a love for wine is a must. Even if you don't have much industry experience you have to love wine and want to know everything about it. You have to always be willing to learn about anything regarding this industry, not just wine. You will never stop learning in this degree, there is always something new coming up. There is so much wine out there, so many different kinds of grapes, and it is so exciting. If you want to keep up with the flow of knowledge, you have to keep up on your reading. Read the text book, magazines, even maps of the different wine regions of all the countries that are major wine producers. Exploring the subject of wine is so helpful. I have learned that if you stay humble you can learn from everyone, not just the greats. I have been tutoring a friend in wines and so far I can see that there are changes in the wines class since I took it. I am learning new things about wine from helping a friend and I think that is amazing.

I would like to step back from the interview and explain why I chose Asher. I came to this school knowing only one person. I was moving somewhere entirely new and unknown to me. I started working on campus within the first two months and Asher was one of the people I met through work.  He has been very kind and welcoming to me and has helped me to feel comfortable and at home here at the CIA. From when I first met him to when he sat down for this interview, he has always been kind and genuinely interested. I look forward to hearing of the things he achieves and the places he goes. I am glad that I can call him a friend.