Monday, December 30, 2013

The CIA Chain

As the editor of the CIA’s alumni magazine, mise en place, I talk to a lot of grads. Almost every article I prepare for the magazine brings me into contact with our alumni. It’s probably one of the best parts of my job. Almost to a person, our alumni are enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and willing to help out, especially if I’m researching an article about their particular culinary passion!

But what makes them so remarkable to me is how much they help and enjoy each other. I don’t know exactly why there is so much camaraderie among the ranks of CIA alumni. Maybe it’s the common language of food that “civilians” just don’t get. Maybe it’s the shared experience of battling the heat in the kitchen. Or maybe it’s their mutual respect for the demands and joys of their CIA education. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called to speak to the executive chef at a restaurant only to learn that the entire staff is made up of CIA grads. Lon Symensma opened his restaurant ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro in Denver, CO, with an entire staff of CIA alumni—basically, people he knew he could count on.

That is a story I hear over and over again—CIA grads hiring CIA grads. It’s a kind of chain made up of links that just do not break. Why? Because they know that they come out of the best culinary college, have the most evolved skills, and are eager to learn. They know that they can count on the grad they hire to function at a level of excellence that is hard to find. And, of course, it gives them the opportunity to hang out and share war stories about their chef-instructors, crazy-busy days in the CIA restaurants, and fun in the dorms and the Student Union.

I love talking to our alumni because by the end of our conversations I always end up feeling enthusiastic and pumped about what we are doing at the college and about the life so many of our alumni are making for themselves.

If you want to read more about the kinds of things our alumni are up to, you can find current and back issues of mise en place at Enjoy!

Nancy Cocola

P.S. To any alumni out there reading this, we’d love for you to share stories about your CIA networking experiences!

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