Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Scholarship That Changed My Life...

     Where The Hills Meet The Sea...

    (Above: The Scene Outside La Finestra Every Single Morning!)


(Above: The Wonderful Grottammare Beach in Marche!)

Le Marche. Many have yet to hear about this region in Italy. After spending a week on the East Coast representing The Culinary Institute of America, I started to wonder why Americans and Italians don’t bother to tour through Marche. Then, I finally figured it out- Le Marche is Italy’s best kept secret- a world wonder, a gem that is only present to those who yearn to seek it. Marche, a land of hills, mountains and sea all woven into one land. A Tuscan-esque scenery meshed with Southern flare and fried olives from Ascoli. A diverse region full of vast Italian dialect and aquamarine d├ęcor. The atmosphere of this ground is relaxing, humble and welcoming. For these are the exact reasons why I am determined to market this region by encouraging people to travel here. 2012 seems to be the start of tourism in Le Marche. I am the prime example of how this mystical land can change an outsider’s way of life. 

(Above: The Wine Barrels at Domodimonti Estates. Incredible!)

My story begins with an exciting phone call that I had received upon returning from my Food, Wine and Agriculture trip to Italy (how ironic) in March with the Bachelor’s program at The Culinary Institute of America. I had applied for the GRI scholarship (Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani) earlier that month. The scholarship description read as follows: “This year, the students will travel to the Le Marche region in Italy where they will be hosted by Domodimonti, a boutique winery located in the picturesque countryside of Montefiore dell'Aso in Le Marche, Italy. The scholars will learn about the production processes at Domodimonti, will visit the Pastificio Spinosi for an exclusive pasta making session with the owner of the famous Campofiore pasta, Vincenzo Spinosi. They will also visit the Agostini olive oil mill, producer of the award winning extra virgin olive oils followed by educational seminars on the production of the oil, a working farm and restaurant, Lucio Pompili's Symposium, and world renowned Varnelli Distillery.”

I never would have thought that the Financial Aid office would have selected me since I had just been in Italy studying food and wine for three weeks. Yet, my hard work paid off and I was accepted into the program. Anxious, bewildered, confused and appreciative were all of the emotions I had experienced knowing that I’d be traveling to my roots once more this year. This trip changed my perspective on life. I am now convinced that I need to start cherishing the meaning behind a simplistic lifestyle.

(Above: The GRI Scholarship Group with Signor Spinosi Himself!)

How did I become so lucky to take on this journey? I kept asking myself this question over and over again when I had returned to New York. You know that you miss a place dearly and consider it your second home when you feel an overwhelmed state of depression after the trip.  I don’t mean it in a bad way; believe me I am very fortunate to live in The United States of America. But when would I ever ride a van through the hills of Italy, sing and dance with families near the beach, sip wine course after course and bond with Italians who didn’t know English well, but still managed to hold conversations? Never again would I experience the same exact trip, and that is why I think that everyone should treasure the personal connection traveling creates between humans and foreign terroir.   

The friends I had made on the trip are wonderful leaders in the food industry. There were a total of seven of us including myself, Erica Sabalones (a Baking and Pastry major here at The Culinary), Chris Struck (Johnson and Wales graduate), Stirling Walter (a hospitality major at San Diego State University), Nick Weidenbach (a hospitality major from Rochester Institute of Technology), Chelsea Lee Gallup (a Cornell student studying viniculture) and Ronald Gargani (soon attending the University of Pittsburgh). Our diverse backgrounds made for interesting conversations regarding food, wine and foreign languages (Italian, French and Spanish). We all participated in a variety of team building exercises within the kitchen and dining room including challenging one another in a cooking competition, tasting olive oil and selecting specific wines for multiple courses at dinner. The staff at Hotel Magnolia were wonderful and the most hospitable people I have ever met in my life. Every night, we would stay up as late as possible to absorb the culture and timelessness of the land in Marche, for we didn’t want to miss a single second on this week long adventure.

(Above: The GRI Scholars with Chef Tonino Bruni and Signora Romina in the Kitchen.)

I encourage all of you (prospective students and current students) to keep your eyes out for these scholarship programs. It’s as easy as filling out an application, writing a short essay and possibly asking for two letters of recommendation. This trip to Italy would have cost me over $7,000 and I received this once in a lifetime opportunity for free. Imagine what studying, good grades and determination in the hospitality field can do to a student. For me, I cherish my time at the CIA for all of these connections and voyages. This scholarship has influenced me to study Italian food and wine after I graduate college. What more could I ask for? It’s comforting knowing that I have selected a career path which not only reflects my heritage, but reminds me of the wonderful people and food I encountered in Italy.

 (Above: "Zuppa Di Pesce" produced by the Ragazze during the Cooking Competition.)

 Stay Hungry and Curious!

Con Amore, Giulianna  (BPS '12)

Monday, June 25, 2012

CIA Stars & Stripes Weekend

Well folks, only a week or so, and the 4th of July Festivities will be upon us!

This past weekend, CIA students enjoyed a small taste of the 4th, just a tad earlier than the rest of us. Stars & Stripes weekend is one of the annual events that happens here at the Culinary, and it is greatly anticipated by students, faculty, and residents of the Hyde Park and Poughkeepsie areas.

I was very excited about Stars & Stripes, since it was my first time at this summer event. Usually, I am off campus for the summertime, so I was thrilled to finally take part in the festivities.

Saturday night...

...played host to a dance and fireworks display. The dance was held on Anton Plaza, the beautiful outdoor area located right outside the main doors of Roth Hall, CIA's primary educational building.

Dancers and firework-gazers donned their red, white, and blue finest, as well as some colorful glowsticks, and any other 4th-inspired decorations they could find. Children danced together to the music, and everyone ooed and ahhd at the fantastic fireworks display.

Sunday afternoon...

...from 12-4pm, was the Block Party and BBQ, located on the lawn right against the Hudson River, and next to our Student Recreation Center. Here, CIA clubs could show their stuff, and many hosted booths serving food or offering games.

Side by Side

Rosenthal Hall Gives Out 
Frozen Ice Pops From Their 
"Ice Cream Truck" Stand 


Each residence hall hosted a booth, along with KACIA (the Korean society), BCS (Black Culinarian Society), Slow Food, Student Government, SPICE (Student programming), Gourmet Society, Culinary Notes (music), Brew Club, and many more.

Blow-Up Obstacle Course

The Lodges Had a Make-Your-Own Frozen Banana Stand. YUM!

Students participated in a pinata contest, a hot dog eating contest, raced each other in a huge inflatable obstacle course, made some tie dye t-shirts, got some custom engraved dog tags, and played classic carnival games for prizes. Food included Korean Barbecue, traditional Southern-style Barbecue, hot dogs, root beer floats, ice pops, local salads, frozen bananas, cotten candy, and so much more!

Pie Your RA Stand, 
To Benefit The Troops

I Got To Pie Our Newest Blogger, Giulianna!

Overall, Stars & Stripes weekend was a huge success! The CIA does themed weekends like this during every season, and the next one is in late summer/ early fall, for Welcome Back Week. It goes to show that there is always something going on on campus, and there are always fun and FREE things to enjoy!

Stay hungry and curious,

Blayre :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Point Townhouse Opens at the CIA!

I hope you are all staying cool, and had a good time celebrating your Dads this past weekend!

The 17th of June not only marked a special day for Dads all over, but was also the grand opening of the first Townhouse on the CIA campus!

The school has been in construction for the past few months, working on the three new housing units for incoming Bachelors students. Each of the three Townhouses is named after a famous Chef, the first being Fernand Point, the second being Auguste Escoffier, and the last being AntoineCareme.

Each Townhouse holds six or seven units, and each unit holds eight students. Each unit has eight single rooms, three shared full bathrooms and showers, a laundry room with a washer and dryer, and a full kitchen.

I got to help out with the new student check-ins at the Townhouses as part of my RA position here at The Culinary, and it was so exciting to see the new residents moving into their new rooms! The units are coed, and students can sign up in groups as little as 2, or as big as 8, so everyone knows at least one person moving in with them.

I took some pictures so you all could see how nice the units look... I have to admit that I'm pretty jealous. I wish I could live in one!

Students Relaxing In The 
Great Room

The Kitchen. Check Out That Viking Range!! And The Fridge!!


Student Single Room

Vanity In One Of The Bathrooms. 
This Is Apart From The Shower Unit.

Washer And Dryer.

As you can see, there are some new and amazing changes happening here at the CIA. The Escoffier and Careme Townhouses are still under construction, but if students are interested in living in the Townhouses, be sure to contact Ruth Phillips in Residence Life by calling 845-451-1260.

Stay hungry and curious,

Blayre :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

CIA's Annual "Run For Your Knives"!

We have many great annual events here at the CIA, ones that most students know about even if they haven't ever attended, or been on campus for them in previous years.
This is how I viewed the Run For Your Knives 5K, which the campus's Wellness Team hosts each year. It was an event that I knew many loved and anticipated, but also one that I had never attended.

Well, this year everything changed!

CIA's Athletic Director, Trainer & Coach Mike Murphy prepares everyone for the start

This year, I decided that I would sign up to Run for my Knives, no matter how long it took me! Granted, I am not the worst runner there is, but I know that we have some great athletes here at the Culinary.
Unfortunately, the weather was a bit drizzly, but the runners weren't complaining... better to run in drizzle than run in the heat!

Some Runners Waiting To Start

The 5K took place around the entire campus, and three laps following the roads conveniently equals the proper distance. Prizes went to the first male and female finisher. Updates with their names will come soon... I was too busy panting to figure out who won!

All-in-all, it was a great day. Everyone had a great time running, walking, or strolling around the campus. We even had a dog entered as well!

The annual 5K is just one example of the amazing opportunities that students have that allows them to get involved in fun activities on campus. Also this weekend was a whitewater rafting trip. Stay tuned for some coverage of another annual event coming up, Stars & Stripes weekend. This festive celebration is like a huge 4th of July party, but a tad earlier, and features fireworks, an outdoor dance, food, games, prizes, and so much more! This year's events are surely going to be some to remember.

Stay hungry and curious,

Blayre :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Notable CIA Grads

We see their faces on TV, in the news, and behind big-name brands.
They have talent, personality, and drive... not to mention great success in our industry!

They are our CIA graduates.

Now of course, not everyone that graduates from the CIA becomes famous, but what they do become are Chefs that have the knowledge and tools to make a difference, no matter where they choose to work or operate.

Today I want to highlight some of our most successful graduates, so you can see what you might be able to accomplish with the backing of a CIA degree. These people made the right choice, and so can you!

Cat Cora

Cat was mentored by the notorious Jula Child, and graduated from the CIA's Hyde Park campus in 1995. She is the only female Iron Chef currently on the popular Food Network show, and also appeared as a co-host for Kitchen Impossible. She has held positions such as Executive Chef for Bon Appetit Magazine, is a UNICEF spokesperson, and currently hosts the Food Network Show Around the World in 80 Plates.

Grant Achatz

Grant graduated from the CIA's Hyde Park campus in 1994. After a series of impressive positions, including Sous Chef at The French Laundry, Grant went on to open his now famous Chicago restaurant, Allinea, in 2005. Known for his unique approach to cooking, Grant continuously wows guests and critics alike with his interesting food. He recently opened another Chicago restaurant, Next, where guests make reservations by purchasing tickets (which are highly sought after, and very expensive!).

Anthony Bourdain

Notorious tell-it-like-it-is writer and Chef, Anthony Bourdain graduated from the CIA's Hyde Park Campus in 1978, and has become one of the industry's most recognizable faces, mainly due to this popular Travel Channel TV show, No Reservations. He is the author of the New York Time's best seller, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, as well as chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York City. He continues to write, travel, and cook all around the world.

Duff Goldman

This Ace of Cakes graduate from CIA's Greystone campus in 1998, and has been whipping up sweet things ever since. After a stint at The French Laundry, Duff decided that cakes were the way to go. He ran a small business out of his apartment in Baltimore, and ultimately opened up his own business, known as Charm City Cakes (and the site of his popular Food Network show, Ace of Cakes). Although the show does not currently run, he is still baking up a storm in Baltimore!


The five graduates that I've mentioned are only a mere few compared to the thousands of chefs, pastry chefs, and front of the house employees that proudly display their Green and Gold pride. These people are the reason why our industry is so successful and diverse!

Who will be the next graduate to make it on top?

Stay hungry and curious,

Blayre :)