Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Blogspiration": The Art of Food on the Web

Food is Life...

This is one of our mantras here at the CIA, and it holds true in every facet of our industry and our lives as future chefs. 

Recently, I've noticed a huge trend happening on the web...people everywhere have caught the food love bug, and they are blogging about it!

Some of the best advice I can offer to prospective students (and even current students and industry professionals) is to take advantage of the sharing of massive amounts of food knowledge online. Start Googling and find the blog of someone with the same interest as you! I have gotten so many interesting ideas for wedding cakes (my future profession) from hitting the blogs and seeing what other creative people are doing!

For those of you who want to attend the CIA: search for blogs written by CIA students. There are plenty of current students who blog about their personal experiences at school. Also, use the blogs of famous chefs, writers, and enthusiasts as inspiration. They can teach you a few things before you arrive on campus!

For those of you who are current students OR work in the industry: consider starting a blog and sharing your knowledge with others! There are a lot of foodies out there who have great blogs, but don't always have the training to back it up. It is always great to see talented chefs, pastry chefs, bakers, nutritionists, photographers, and so many more who can give their professional perspective.


Let me help you get started...
                        here are some great blogs for you to check out!

Some veteran bloggers: 
Chez Pim:

You might have seen Pim judging an Iron Chef competition, on the show Food(ography) or even cooking with Martha Stewart. Her blog is one of the first well-known food blogs (#6 of the World's 50 best food blogs... not to shabby Ms. Pim). Her blog ranges from pad thai and curry, to macaroons and marmalades, and surely won't disappoint! 

David Lebovitz:

    I discovered David when I noticed his Ready for Dessert book in the CIA bookstore. All I can say is as soon as I saw the book's front cover, which depicts a chocolate cake being covered in chocolate ganache, I was sold. David previously worked in the pastry section at Chez Panisse, and has done extensive traveling in Paris, France. His knowledge of all thing sweet is indispensable, and many of his scrumptious recipes can be found on his blog as well! 

Get Cookin':
Matt Bites:

For those of you interested in food photography, Matt Bites is a must-read blog. Matt is lovable, goofy, and extremely passionate about food, plus he's one of Martha Stewart's favorite bloggers. Check out his quirky musings on food and life in this creative blog!

Cooking with Amy:

    One of Saveur's "Sites we Love", and one of Forbes' top five food blogs, Cooking with Amy will solve your every foodie desire. Chock full of family recipes, food and product reviews and travel experiences, Cooking with Amy will interest anyone in the food industry!

For the Sweet Tooth:
Brave Tart:

Pastry chef at Lexington KY's Table 310 and graduate of our very own Culinary Institute, blogger Stella     Parks shares recipes for unique sweets (she even makes her own sprinkles!) which are beautifully     photographed by her friend and food photographer, Stephen Weber. She is living proof that our alumni     can do great things. I will be bookmarking this blog in my favorites for sure!


    This blog, written by Canadian-based photographer and cake-lover Rosie Alyea, has been one of my     favorites for over a year. Rosie is the creator of some of the best cake recipes I've ever tried, and she spends hours upon hours to make them taste and look amazing. Plus, her photographs (especially the ones of her two gorgeous little daughters...oh, and the cakes), are worth checking out!


 I hope these blogs tickle your taste buds and set you a-clicking for more!

stay hungry and curious,
Blayre :) 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Welcome Home!: CIA Student Housing

What is it like to live on the CIA campus?

 What will my room look like? How big will it be? Is it like a real college? Where do I keep all of my stuff? What about laundry? So many questions!

I have been a Resident Assistant here at the CIA for almost 2 1/2 years now and I think I've become pretty good at letting people know what it's like to live on campus. This post will hopefully start to answer some of those questions!

[Here at the Culinary, we have four Residence Halls as well as six Addirondack-style Lodges where students can live.]
[all photos of the residence halls were taken from the CIA facebook page] 

Hudson Hall (#11 on map)

Hudson is where many first-year CIA students reside. If you live in Hudson, you will either share a room with two, three, or four people. There are also a few single rooms. The majority of the rooms are double-occupancy, and the school is in the process of removing the triple and quadruple-occupancy rooms with the addition of future student housing. Hudson is the only residence hall with communal bathrooms (which may sound like a bad thing, but it's less for you to clean!). It is the closest residence hall to the library, and it is located very close to Roth Hall as well. The best part about Hudson is the community. Everyone is so excited to finally be students of the CIA. You meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends here!

Angell Hall, Pick-Herndon Hall, Rosenthal Hall (#13, 14, & 15 on the map)

I have chosen to group Angell, Pick, and Rosie (as they are affectionately called here at the CIA) because they are very similar in composition. They are mainly comprised of double-occupancy rooms, with some triple-occupancy rooms thrown in here and there. Again, we are in the process of de-tripling the residence halls with the future addition of more campus housing. Angell and Pick are located just steps from Roth Hall, while Rosenthal has a small walkway over the lake in the center of campus for quicker access to the main building. Rosenthal is also the closest to the Student Recreation Center. 

The Lodges (Cinnamon, Juniper, Nutmeg, Clove, Ginger and Cayenne, #17-22 on the map)

The Lodges are home to post-externship students all the way to students in the Bachelors program. Each Lodge is different, and can have many different types of rooms ranging from single-occupancy to triple-occupancy. Here, rooms are grouped into "suites". Each suite has a bathroom and a common area, and then each room opens up from there. Although the Lodges are the furthest from Roth Hall, the distance is only about five minutes (plus they are the closest to the parking lots!). 

Average CIA dorm room:

This is an average double-occupancy room here at the CIA. The rooms here are spacious, even more so than a room at another college, and all of your furniature is provided. As you can see here, besides a bed and a desk, rooms usually come with either a wardrobe, closet, or a large chest of drawers for storage. There is also room for storage underneath your bed! Stay tuned for a post that goes more in-depth about your dorm room, as well as what you should (and shouldn't) bring when you live on campus.

Other perks of on-campus living:

Every Residence Hall on campus has four main things:
  • Laundry facilities: these are coinless (free!!!) and available 24-hours 

  • Student Lounge: this is an area where you can hang out, let off some steam, have a group meeting, or play some video games. Hudson Hall is home to the Renaissance Lounge, which is a large space where many campus events are held (and it has a huge video screen that students are welcome to use). The lounges in Angell, Pick-Herndon, and Rosenthal all have a TV and comfy couches for relaxing. Each Lodge has a common area with a TV, tables, and couches
  • Computer Lab: don't have a laptop? Not to worry! Each hall has a computer lab with 6 or more internet-capable computers, available 24/7.

  • Kitchen: Of course, what's a culinary school without kitchens right down the hall?! Practice your brunoise, make a four-course meal, or just pop some popcorn in any of our Residence Hall kitchens. Basic equipment (ranges, microwave, fridge and freezer, sink) is provided, so make sure to bring your own pots and pans. 

Hopefully this has helped you get a bigger picture of what living in our Residence Halls is like!
Like I mentioned before, I will continue to post about campus living so all of your questions will eventually be answered.

Since this post was published, the CIA has also added townhouses. For a complete listing of available housing, visit our website for a complete list of Residence Halls.

stay hungry and curious,

Blayre :) 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Ultimate Decision: Culinary or Baking?

One of the hardest questions perspective CIA students face is which path to choose...

When I was filling out my application, I couldn't decide... do I want to devote my life to cooking, or am I more of a baker? I hope that with this post, I can help you answer that tough question 
so you can get cookin' (or baking)!

Culinary Arts Degree:

If you choose to follow the Culinary path, you will undergo two years of rigorous training that will teach you everything you need to know to be a successful Chef in the hospitality industry. Besides the primary culinary classes that teach you basic knife skills, basic cooking skills, and the art of collaboration in the kitchen, you are also exposed to many different World cuisines.

You will then complete an 18 week externship (stay tuned for some posts about extern!) and then return to the CIA for another year (or so) of Management classes, as well as courses that focus on Wine studies, and also training for the Front of the House, which will prepare you to work in two of the five restaurants we have here on campus. 

For more info on the courses in the AOS Culinary program, click here!


You might be a Culinary student if you...

-are able to think quickly, and work with speed and precision
-work well under pressure
-don't need to use exact recipes all of the time, you like to improvise
-are ok with getting a burn, and are working around hot stoves and in warm temperatures
-are prepared to work with sharp tools
-can work under a time constraint and keep your cool
-can handle some tough critics, especially your Chef-instructors and fellow students
-work well with others and in a group setting


Baking and Pastry Arts Degree

If you choose to enter in the Baking and Pastry program at the CIA, you will start your degree learning all about baking basics. Classes will teach you the art of baking technique, pastry technique, breads, and individual desserts.

You will also complete an 18-week externship, and when you return, classes become a bit more specialized. Our wonderful baking and pastry faculty will teach you the art of chocolates, sugar, cake, and fondant work, gluten-free products, and plated desserts, as well as Management classes and a class on Wine Studies. Spending some time in the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe, as well as some of our other campus restaurants, marks the culmination of your degree!

For more information on courses in the AOS Baking and Pastry Arts program, click here!

You might be a Baking student if you...

-are extremely precise and detail-oriented
-have patience, sometimes you have to start a recipe all over again!
-can follow exact directions and work with specific recipes
-have basic artistic ability (not required, but it helps!)
-are ok with cooler and very clean conditions
-have basic math skills and can remember important ratios and formulas-are ok working on a project by yourself


Your success in the Hospitality industry is all about what you put into it. If you dream about one day being on the Food Network, or making it as a Megastar chef, be prepared to put a lot of hard work, sweat, and determination into your career.
One thing is fore sure, choosing the CIA will put you miles ahead of anyone else, and help you achieve your dreams!

Stay hungry and curious,

Blayre :) 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Backstage" at the Bocuse d'Or

(photo credit: Amy Blogs Chow)

“The CIA auditorium is alive with the smells of roasting chickens and simmering herbs, the sounds of knives making precise cuts and packed wall to wall with industry professionals, vendors, and screaming culinary students..."

This is just one small taste of the excitement that ensued at the Culinary Institute’s Hyde Park Campus this past Saturday, January 27th and 28th. The Culinary's Hyde Park campus was the host of the 2012 USA Bocuse d’Or Competition, an event that pits four of the Nation’s most talented chefs against one another to see who will represent our country in the Bocuse d’Or World competition, held in Lyon, France.

I got a front row seat, as well as a pass to go behind the velvet rope to fill you in on the events of this special weekend!

I have been a CIA student for three years now, and I can still remember sitting in my Gastronomy class during the first six weeks of my Associates program. One of the main things that we were taught in Gastronomy was about the history of the restaurant, as well as about the chefs that have greatly impacted the culinary industry (you can see many of them in my photo). Chefs such as Jerome Bocuse (son of Paul Bocuse, the father and founder of the Bocuse d’Or, as well as chef of Les Chefs du France in Walt Disney World), Thomas Keller (The French Laundry and Per Se), Daniel Boulud (Restaurant Daniel, CafĂ© Boulud, DBGB), Grant Achatz (Allinea and NEXT), and many more, were judging and helping throughout the competition.

Since I am also a writer and Copy Editor for our school newspaper, La Papillote, I got a unique look behind the scenes of the competition!

Being in the La Papillote Newspaper office throughout the event was like stepping into Grand Central Station for these notorious Chefs. Chef Jerome Bocuse and Chef Daniel Boulud whisked by me speaking hurried French and looking over judging paperwork, while Chef Grant Achatz, (seen with me in the photo above), swung by to pick up his judging chef jacket. When Thomas Keller popped his head in our small cubicle to ask for a pencil, the staff just about toppled over one another, excitedly trying to find the first pencil they could get their hands on. These men and women are people we've been hearing about and learning from since we started here. They are our idols, people we aspire to be like in the future, and at that very moment, they were all within arm's length!

I also got to watch the most action-filled part of the whole weekend from the VIP section (while snacking on some complimentary foie gras terrine and Nescafe espresso, yum!!!!).

It was exhilarating watching each of the four teams start the competition during their allotted intervals, and then, when the buzzer sounded, present gorgeous and meticulously constructed plates of food.

Each team was required to use two different proteins (assigned by the Bocuse panel) in their dishes. The first, cod, had to be plated with three garnishes, and was judged by a specific panel of fish judges. The second, chicken, was presented on a platter which is shown to a panel of meat judges, and then carved and plated so they can taste each component. Chef Bocuse, Chef Keller, and Chef Boulud were honorary judges and got to taste each competitor’s dish.

The winner of the 2012 Bocuse d’Or USA competition is Richard Rosendale, who represented the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. His chicken platter can be seen above
(credit: First Press PR)

The Bocuse was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was one of the many amazing opportunities I have had (and will to continue to have) as a CIA student!

Stay hungry and curious,