Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Final Farewell

Enjoying my classes in AOS, 2 years ago!

I was in 8th grade when the rubber soles of my sneakers first touched CIA soil.

Wide-eyed with wonder, I watched students rushing to and from class, knife bags slung over their shoulders, focused on their chosen destinations. Before that moment, I had no clue that you could go to school solely to learn how to cook, let alone the fact that there was an entire college for this type of training. I wanted so badly to be one of those students decorating cakes, filleting fish, or dipping truffles in chocolate. I knew that the CIA was where I was meant to be.

Chillin' with my Snowchef during my Freshman year at the CIA

After three years here at The Culinary, and dozens of life-changing experiences later, I am finally on the brink of graduating with my Bachelor's degree... and I can proudly say that I made the right choice. I truly would not be the person (and the chef) I am today without the education and knowledge I gained from attending this school, and interacting with some of the most talented chefs in the industry.

I guess you could say I am becoming a bit nostalgic. Thinking back, I realize that as I progressed through the AOS and BPS programs, I felt myself becoming more and more comfortable in my surroundings, and growing into my own personal style of Pastry Chef.

What I love is that all of the students that have come before me, as well as those that will come after, have gone through the same thing, each person developing their own personal sense of self expression. This is where our biggest opportunity lies here at school. We are working alongside future chefs of our generation, and that is something truly amazing to think about. Right now, I can think of at least five people off of the top of my head that will be industry-changing. And even still, there are all of those students that will make a difference in their chosen realm of the industry, even if it isn’t a global one, and that is equally as important.

For those of you who are about to spend a few years of  your time here in the beautiful Hudson Valley, count yourself as one of
the extremely lucky few for having the opportunity to attend the CIA. Yeah,
yeah I know it’s cliché, but seriously! What kind of chef would you be if you
weren’t here, meeting Jerome Bocuse at the Bocuse d’Or, rubbing elbows with
Thomas Keller during a presentation, tasting the latest in Greek Wines with a
Master of Wine, or flying to foreign countries all over the World to bathe in
their culinary culture?

Enjoying my time in Italy with the BPS program, a truly life-changing three weeks!

This school offers you opportunities that no other
institute does, and there is something to be said about that. It’s what you
make of it that matters. And never forget that your time spent on these sacred
culinary grounds was earned, but you still need to keep a level head once
you’re out in the industry.

For all of the students that have come and gone, and for all that are eager to break new ground here at the CIA, promise me that you will make this alma mater proud, and show them your
stuff when you put that plate at the pass or greet that customer with your
gleaming smile.

That’s how it should be done!  

Thank you all for reading my words, and be sure to visit my blog if you ever need any baking info!
I wish you all the best of luck in your Culinary endeavors.

Stay hungry and curious,

Blayre :) 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Leadership Qualities in the Food Industry...

The Graduating Bachelors Class of 10/18/12

My Leadership and Ethics teacher assigned this essay to the class for our final paper. I thought it would be a good idea to share my words with you all because I think that it is important to evaluate ourselves in this business, especially upon graduating and moving into the real world. The assignment was to rank ourselves on a scale from 1-10 based on the attributes I list. Thanks for listening and I hope this inspires you all to do a self reflection once in a while!

Giulianna's Leadership Quality Assesment

    Vision, ability,
enthusiasm, stability, concern for others, self-confidence, persistence,
vitality, charisma and integrity are all factors of a good leader. While I am
in strong in some of these categories, there are definitely some qualities of
being a leader that I can work towards.

 I have always had a bold vision ever since I was a young girl. From high school
on, I have  strived to leave a mark in history wherever I was working or
living. Whether it is applying for a respected position in a job,
excelling in classes or volunteering, leaders need to have drive and a goal to
work towards. I would rate myself a “9” for vision because my dreams are always
in the back of my mind, motivating me to be the best.

As for ability, I believe this attribute requires experience. Sure, many have the
ability to pursue anything they want, but practice and skills strengthens
ability. In this category, I am probably a “7” because I can always improve on
any given task.

Optimism is key for success, even in the toughest of times. In regards to enthusiasm, I
would be ranked an “8” because I do try my best to look at the “big picture”
but it is hard to avoid the challenges along the way and not be distracted.

Out of all of the characteristics of a good leader, my stability is probably the
lowest number (I would say around a “6”). I do not like change and am not
afraid in admitting that. Yet, there is nothing I can do about it. It takes me
awhile to emotionally adjust to new environments, friends, work settings, etc.

I have always showcased a “10” in concern for others. I try my best never to hold
grudges and I do like to think that I forgive people, perhaps too often. In
this industry though, maintaining good ties with everyone in the business is

My self confidence level would be around an “8”. I am a strong woman but there are
particular situations that I get mad at myself for, which makes me reflect on
my actions in the past. These past occurrences do lower my self-confidence but
I always remind myself about my wonderful family and the people who raised me.

Persistence-wise, I am a definite “10”. Throughout the last few years, especially in college, I have never given up on a goal. Whether it was a job, a boy, a grade, a
scholarship, I did whatever it took to get what I wanted. Yes, it may sound a
bit conceded, but my determination is what makes me that much stronger.

Vitality is essential in surviving because without stamina and adrenaline, it is hard to
stay energized and enthusiastic. I would be a “9” in this field because my
strength usually overpowers my feelings, but there is always room to grow.

I always try to work on my charisma, especially being in the hospitality
industry. It’s important to be energetic and have the ability to attract
others. As for now, I am most likely an “8” but am hoping to reach that “9-10”
range in the future as a role model.

Integrity is probably the most difficult attribute to a good leader. It is hard for me to
trust and rely on others. This inhibits me from being honest and opening up to
many people. Yet, I find myself having more and more courage and faith in
others day after day. I would rank myself a “7” in this section.

Overall, my total is an 82 (a high or very-good leader). I believe that my struggles,
work experience and lifestyle have gotten me to this number. My goal is to stay
at this point or above, reaching the exceptional potential to lead others in
the future.

    It was a pleasure writing for you all on the CIA blog! Best of luck to my classmates in the graduating class of October 18th, 2012! Stay strong CIA...


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Beer with Heart: The Newburgh Brewing Company

I've said it before,

the Hudson Valley is a mecca of culinary wonders. From the tiny independently-run hot dog shops hiding in city corners, to the ingredient-and-wine-focused tapas bars bringing in neighborhood locals, and even the doorsteps of some of the most cutting-edge chefs around, there is so much to explore.

This past weekend, I got to explore, and boy did I find somewhere worth visiting.

A friend invited me to enjoy a tour and tasting of the Newburgh Brewing Company, located in Newburgh, NY. Passion is something that is garnered here at the CIA, and it was evident that the guys running this fairly-new, yet monstrously-popular brewery have that passion in their blood AND their beer.

The Newburgh Brewing Company is located right along the Hudson river, in a massive old building that business partners Christopher Basso (Brewmaster and CEO) and Paul Halayko rennovated to create the brewery that it is today... and it's still just the beginning.

At the beginning of the tour, Paul met us at the door and brought us to meet Chris in the brewing room, which is located on the bottom floor of the Brewery building. The brewery produces 8 different types of beers, which I will discuss later, all with one to two staff members at a time. Pretty darn impressive, right?

Chris explained to us the process that Newburgh uses to create their craft beers. The process starts with imported malted barley, which they get from Europe and mill on site. This is then steeped, just like tea, which converts the starches in the barley into sugars, which can then be fermented. The liquid is extracted from this step and gets boiled, along with English and German hops, which are sometimes toasted, depending on the beer. At this point flavorings are added, if it applies to the beer, and they then get strained through a tank called a "hop back", which prevents particles from escaping into the finished liquid, called the "wort". The wort is then cooled and fermented, using the natural yeasts from previous batches of Newburgh beer. The fermentation period lasts about five days, including a two-week cold conditioning period. After it is filtered, if necessary, it is carbonated, bottled, and then ready for your drinking pleasure!!

After our tour, we headed upstairs to the tasting room, which is located on the top floor of the building. The space was beautiful, and could have easily held 150 people. Besides the sweeping views of the river, the large wooden tables, pinball machines, old games, and antique-vintagey feel, there was the bar, which serves all 8 of NBC's beers

Brewmaster Chris has both a culinary background, and a beer background, which he gained from spending time at culinary school in New York, and working for the notorious Brooklyn Brewery.

"When I make beer, it's just like a chef creating a dish," he explains.
"Beer can marry with food and really highlight different characteristics. With so many different hops, yeasts, and grains, beer can cover the entire spectrum of wine plus more." 

His culinary knowledge and creativity really shined through in his beer, and we could tell that each one was well constructed. 

Our tasting consisted of four beers, plus a fifth special beer of our choosing.

For those who like light beers like Bud Light, the Cream Ale is for you. Its high malt content gives you a creamy mouth feel, and would go well with many different types of foods. The Saison is an unfiltered Belgian farmhouse ale, with a clovey finish and a cinnamon allspice nose. It is a great summer beer, but reminded me faintly of the holidays from its smell. The Peat Smoked Stout is a dry Irish stout that contains malt which has been smoked over a peat fire. It's charred smokey aroma and full flavor would go great with some BBQ!
My favorite beer of the night was the Brown Ale. This english style ale had hints of chocolate, espresso , and caramel, without a huge amount of bitterness. I really have to say that this is one of the best beers I've had...ever! We ended our tasting with a sample of the Gose, which is a german wheat beer brewed with coriander and salt, giving it a unique sour flavor.

We spent the rest of the night enjoying the beautiful space, sipping delicious craft brews, and playing cornhole as the sun set over the Hudson river.

The Newburgh Brewing Company is a must-visit if you are in the Hudson valley. They offer trivia nights (with some pretty awesome prizes) every Wednesday, and are open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for dinner, with a menu that features their beer, as well as the local produce from the Hudson valley (Cream Ale-battered onion rings, anyone? Brown Ale chocolate sundae?).

Do consider heading over and supporting such a heart-filled venture!

Stay Hungry and Curious,

Blayre :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Class That Will Make A Mark in History


I have always explained things better in writing. If I were to recite this out loud, I’d be crying by the second paragraph. With that said, I would like to take up this space in the newspaper to say good luck and “see you later” to those who have embarked on this journey with me for the past three years of school.

Graduating Associates isn’t as rough, especially when the Bachelor’s start date is right around the corner. Sure, each curriculum is different but there is a guarantee for new, exciting classes and travels in the BPS program. People always tend to scare high school students, telling them that they are about to enter the real world when moving into a university. Let me tell you, being a college student, especially when living on campus, is no comparison to reality in the workforce.

The thought of graduating is scary, exciting and emotional all at once. I’m not going to lie, I get anxious going to sleep sometimes, wondering where I will be in the next five years and how I will ever pay the rent in New York City to work amongst some of the best Chefs. I always remind myself though; I have worked to earn the best foundation anybody could ever ask for, a degree in Culinary Arts Management from The Culinary Institute of America.

I am young, and I keep reminding others of that as well. The future is full of endless possibilities in this industry and I am sure that all of us will be
successful in our careers. Why? Because we are prepared for what is coming. I respect every single person that is graduating with me for getting this far along the line. We all know of people who have dropped out, given up, changed careers, etc. because cooking or baking was just too difficult. Well guess what folks, we did it and now it’s time
to make it big.

Congratulations to my graduating class of October 18th, 2012. I will miss you all so much and I hope that we will all run into one another in the future (it seems to be a theme in this industry). My advice to myself and to others is to stay determined and strong, always leave your mark and make yourself be known. We are a family bonded by education like no other. Stay curious and be well! A presto…

Monday, October 1, 2012

Why I Chose the CIA's California Campus

By Ellen Fort, Culinary Arts Major in St. Helena, CA

Choosing a culinary school was easy for me, as there was really only one choice: The Culinary Institute of America. I wanted a degree that held weight in the culinary community, and to be part of the amazing network of successful chefs, restaurateurs and other industry leaders that the CIA had helped to create over the years. So after making that first easy decision I was faced with a slightly harder choice: which campus should I choose? Each location boasted incredible opportunities, skilled chef-instructors, great local dining scenes...but which was right for me?

My decision was made when I drove my red Ford Focus rental car up the driveway at the Greystone campus. 
Not only had I spent the past hour and a half driving through idyllic vineyards and mountain vistas to arrive there, I was awestruck by the great stone building in front of me. Greystone's history is long and rich, an integral part of Napa Valley's past as a winemaking region and I knew that I wanted to be part of it. All over campus fruit trees bloomed, flowers lined the walkways and students in toques waded through rows of terraced herbs, snipping fresh product for their classes.

As I toured the campus I learned more about the smaller learning environment, access to great 
chefs, the opportunities to learn about wine firsthand and what it was like to be part of the close-knit Napa community. Many students worked in wineries cooking for events or pouring wine in tasting rooms, which is an incredible way to learn more about the business and craft of making wines (not to mention getting paid for it). Greystone is also a venue for many amazing CIA-sponsored conferences and events, such as Worlds of Flavor and Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives. These events offer students the opportunity to work with famous chefs from all over the world, as they improve their skills as culinary students. Local industry stars are passionate about the Napa community, and can often be found giving lectures or demos on different techniques and issues on campus. Additionally, a strategic location in an agricultural area with a year-round growing season gives students great opportunities to learn more about sustainable farming practices and produce. During the student garden is able to supply the campus with a multitude of fresh produce and herbs.

And education aside, Greystone's campus is only an hour away from San Francisco's vibrant food scene, as well as a quick drive to the beach or the mountains.

Truly California delivers on the promise that it is the "Land of Food and Wine." My time here has been marked with one-of-a-kind experiences with well-respected chefs, wine-makers and my classmates, who have become my network for life. CIA Greystone was the right choice for my entrance into the world of food and wine, and I know I will find myself drawn back here many times in the years ahead.