Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When Food is Your Life

Hello everyone! I just wanted to introduce myself, my name is Nora and I am very excited to be the newest contributor on the CIA blog!

(Left: Me. Center: Madeleine Cookies. Right: My Roommate, Sammy.)

I am currently in a course entitled “Wines Studies” and spend 80% of my time surrounded by books and notecards in a cubicle at the CIA's Conrad Hilton Library (...the other 10% at Starbucks and 10% in my room) STUDYING!

(All work, but ALL worth it! I'm hoping to continue with a career in food and wine!)

I only have 12 weeks of classes left before graduation! Starting next week, I will be working in the restaurants on campus: Caterina de' Medici for 6-weeks; American Bounty for 3-weeks; and then hopefully working the front-of-house at the NEW Bocuse Bistro for 3-weeks.  My time at school has flown by, and I can't believe how much I've learned in 21-months!

(I spent roughly 5-months of school on "Externship" in Napa! Food+Wine= Love)

So what is my story and how did I get here?

I remember sitting in my college dorm room at the tender age of 19 wondering what I was doing with my life. At 19 most people don’t have a clue, however; I felt especially lost. I was studying political science and public health. The course load was "fine"...but that is all I could say about it. Unlike my peers, I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about obtaining a job working for the government or studying to become a lawyer after graduation. So...again...WHAT WAS I DOING???!!!

(In my free time...I cook. Roasted Beet Ravioli. Tarragon-Brown Butter Sauce. Carrot-Ginger Puree. Swiss Chard.)

In my state of confusion and frustration, I found peace in cooking. I planned my days around dinner, and took “study breaks” to research new ideas on bonappetit.com and epicurious.com. My friends at school never understood my fascination (nearing obsession) with food. I always thought of it as a hobby...never a career.

Three years later (now 22 years old) I graduated and entered an internship with Wegmans Food Markets. My job with their marketing department was an opportunity of a lifetime. Not only was I able to work with food, I was also able to use some of my 4-year college degree (I had a certificate in Marketing/Management, a BA in Political Science and Public Health).
Most of the sous chefs and chefs I was working with were CIA graduates. I was jealous of their knowledge and experience. I asked them everyday for career advice. I had worked in the industry and done plenty of “self-study” over the years but I knew I needed a more well rounded education.

(The friends and connections I've made here are amazing!)

Maybe my dream of going to culinary school wasn’t so far fetched after all. I decided to send in my application....just to see if I could get in.

My dad accompanied me to visit The Culinary. I was nervous and excited. This was my longtime dream on the verge of reality. When we pulled onto campus, I did everything in my power to keep my calm (and not hyperventilate).
I thought to myself, "WHERE HAS THIS SCHOOL BEEN ALL MY LIFE? WHY DID I NOT COME HERE SOONER?"  The campus was charming and sophisticated. The dorms were labeled foodie terms like “Cinnamon” and “Clove” and the road signs we all named after herbs. The buildings looked polished and the people looked professional. My first impression was something out of a culinary-infused dream. I can only describe my feeling as follows:

Harry Potter : Hogwarts 


Nora: CIA

Beyond the initial glamour, I wandered the halls and saw all of the exhausted students. The frustrated students. The flour-coated students. Life in the kitchen is NOT easy. It is hard work. It is dirty work. It is time consuming work.
But when food is your life, it is worth all of the sleepless nights and working hours. I had to be apart of this.

How often are you able to follow your passions and dreams? In a nutshell, it hasn’t been an easy road, but I wouldn’t trade a second of it. My education has been rich, and filled with a myriad of people, cultures and cuisines that I wouldn’t have found anywhere else. I am grateful to have had this opportunity.

Now...all I have to do is pass my Wines final!

Food Life,


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