Thursday, April 24, 2014

Favorite Meals at the CIA

by student blogger Emilio

One of the many things that makes The Culinary Institute of America unique is the meals students eat on a daily basis. A typical college or university has one or more dining halls where food is prepared and is served, usually in a buffet style. Here, students in their production classes actually cook and plate the food each student and staff member eats. This allows the perfect avenue for students in class to practice preparing food for actual “customers” while reducing waste since the other students have to eat anyways. What took me a little longer to realize is that since each production class only lasts three weeks, every three weeks the menus reset. So if you are attentive enough, each block you could eat your favorites from each kitchen, or continue trying new dishes! Some of my personal favorites meals:

Fideua de Mariscos, Cuisines of the Mediterranean

Fideua de Mariscos - it smelled so good I starting
eating before taking a picture.
A delicious noodle dish from the Valencian Community in Spain. Very similar to paella, another Spanish dish but with noodles instead of rice. Different seafood including calamari, shrimp, other shellfish, as well as chorizo all cook together with thin noodles gives this dish both a variety of textures and flavors that work great together. Not at all a pretentious dish but yet so scrumptious. It also helps that all the entrées served for the Spanish cuisine days come with a plate of tapas (a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine).

Turkey Stew, Modern Banquets (Buffet)

Some classmates of mine and myself eating at Modern Banquets.
So much food!

Modern Banquets as a whole might be my favorite “kitchen” to get food from. Modern Banquets is unique because the format is different. In the other production kitchens, you tell the Chef (or student who is taking orders) what you would like to eat and then either swipe your ID or some of the Chefs/student will swipe your card for you (colloquially known as “using a swipe” or “swiping”). You receive your plate of food and depending on the kitchen a soup, salad and/or other snacks (I’ve seen everything from a plate of tapas to fried pig ears to ceviche) and you go on your merry way to eat either in Farquharson Hall, the dining room downstairs, etc. Modern Banquet has two formats actually – plated and buffet. I can only elaborate on the buffet format since it’s the only one of the two I have experienced. The students cook the food in the kitchen down the hall but then it is kept hot in a special dining room using chafing dishes. A select number of the students then serve you the food that you want. I’ve been known to eat here (lunch and dinner) for several consecutive days, which can add to the testament of how delicious it is. The days they have turkey stew they also (usually) have a delicious salad with blue cheese and bacon lardons as wells as minestrone soup, roasted pork loin, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. They also have desserts there; I’ve even had ice cream before!

Pork Schnitzel w/ Spätzle and brocolli rabe
Pork Schnitzel with spätzle, High-Production Cookery (K-16)

Schnitzel and spätzle are both foods that I love, so when I saw them for the first time together on the “menu board” at K-16, I was ecstatic. The crisp pork pairs wonderfully with the soft buttery spätzle and is my favorite dish from K-16.

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