Friday, October 24, 2014

Cooking Up Cookbook Success with Sara Moulton

By Nancy Cocola

Everyone knows who Sara Moulton ’77 is. Starting in 1996, she was the face of the Food Network on her daily show, Cooking Live. Her goal was always to be the “kitchen shrink, the fixit person” for home cooks, helping them get dinner on the table for their families. Her name became synonymous with excellence, warmth, and accessible recipes. Her show was so successful that she was approached to write her first cookbook. “They told me, ‘this is your time, make the most of it.’ Sara explains, “And I was plunged into the world of cookbook writing.”

She certainly had the culinary chops to write a book. Sara had spent seven years working in high-end kitchens in Boston, France, and New York City. For 25 years she worked at Gourmet magazine, first in the test kitchens and then as executive chef of the magazine’s dining room. And she was a familiar face on television working on such shows as the PBS show Julia Child & More Company,  ABC’s Good Morning America., and a total of 1,500 episodes on Food Network’s Cooking Live and Sara’s Secrets. She is now in the fourth season of her PBS show, Sara’s Weeknight Meals.

Sara believes when writing cookbooks you have to consider your audience, your topic focus has to be crystal clear, and your organization has to be akin to mise en place on steroids!

Here’s Sara’s recipe for cookbook writing success:
  • Insist on a full year to write the book so you are not rushed.
  •  Make sure your focus is clear in your mind and you don’t stray.
  • Keep track of the ingredients you use and how often you use them to make sure you don’t over do it with one ingredient in the overall book. If your book has recipes from all over the world, make sure there is a balance of cuisines. Make a chart to keep track of the ingredients and the cuisine types.
  • Sara prefers not to work on a chapter from start to finish because I find it stifles creativity. She chips away at the book as a whole, adding a recipe to one chapter and then another recipe to a different chapter.
  • Write the recipe on the computer the way you think it should work, then print it and test it. Note changes you’ve made to the recipe for each round of testing you do. Note changes, print out new versions, and keep together as you progress.
  • Keep a list of user-friendly sidebars you want to add as you finish the recipe. It might be a technique, discussion of equipment, or introduction of an ingredient.
  • Writing is key. Cookbooks that don’t give guidance aren’t useful. You want to help people learn to cook.

This approach has served Sara well. She has written three cookbooks—Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals, and Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners. All have been hugely successful with her loyal audience.

Sara believes that the traditional reason for buying a cookbook is long gone. “People can choose from thousands of recipes on the Internet,” she says. “The cookbook of today is more of a book you read, peruse, and enjoy in much the way you do a novel. That is why telling a story and writing well is so important.”

Thursday, September 25, 2014

All the World's a Stage

By Maura McMahon O’Meara, CIA Career Services Counselor

Freshman at the CIA will learn lots of French terms, the first is mise en place and they will repeat it until it becomes a part of daily vernacular.  As a student approaches third term they will learn another phrase that will become a part of many conversations, stage (pronounced “staah-g”).  This is a short version of the French word “stagiaire” which refers to an apprentice cook who is in a trial period in a kitchen.

In response to sending a resume and cover letter stating their interest, many students will be asked by a chef to “stage” at a particular restaurant for further consideration to be hired as an extern.  The stage is much more than an interview.  Typically, the student will be asked to come to the restaurant for a full shift and participate in production with the staff. The stage offers the chance for the student to show their skills and enthusiasm, both equally important. They might also have family meal there, offering the chance to observe how the cooks interact with one another. In best cases, they will meet privately with the Executive Chef or Sous chef after service and have a chance to ask questions about what they have seen.

Most students are nervous about what they might be asked to do during the stage but after they have mastered the CIA’s fundamentals classes they should be able to handle themselves with finesse.  Staging too early, before the basics are learned, is not advised.  Being the first one there is not as good as being the best one there.

Remember that what the chef is trying to ascertain during a stage is the skill level and readiness of the applicant. If a location is far and it is not feasible for you to travel there due to schedule or finances, there may be other ways one can help the chef get the same information.  Letters of recommendation from former employers or a reference from a CIA professor could be offered.  Skype interviews can often give the feeling of “meeting someone” in person.  Some students have even sent short YouTube videos of themselves cooking to a chef in place of a stage.

A successful stage could lead to a job offer on the spot, or at least a firm handshake and a promise that the applicant with be carefully considered for the externship position.  It is common to have an applicant back for a second stage before the offer is made, so do not despair if you are asked to wait for an answer.  Staging is an integral part of starting a career in the food industry.  It is your chance to show them what you’ve got. Being a CIA student will open this door for you, but once through that door, it is up to you to prove your worth. Bon Chance!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Culinary Research and Development Final Project

The food product development environment is dynamic and challenging and has become increasingly cross-disciplinary, technical, and global in scope. Research and Development teams need to follow a logical, structured, and evidence-based process while remaining adaptable and creative. Understanding how to work with and effectively articulate solutions to chefs, scientists, marketing experts, pilot plant managers/technicians, operators, and upper level management is part of being an effective and successful product developer. This Culinary R&D class project provides students with an opportunity to work in a team, on a real world challenge, through the product development process from ideation to prototype development.

Student teams were given “real world project briefs” that provide an R&D scenario as the context to explore principles of product development. Teams were given specific calorie, sodium, cost, consumer segments and other parameters and asked to address the following challenges and opportunities as part of the product development process:

·         People undergoing cancer treatments have significant dietary challenges and often find it difficult to maintain their necessary caloric intake during treatment. They often feel an aversion to certain aromas from ingredients such as garlic, onions, etc. Develop a product that meets their nutritional and sensory needs.
·         A food pantry would like to offer patrons more gluten-free options. Develop a gluten-free muffin that contains a half serving of fruit, and includes nuts/whole grains. The product will be par-baked in an off-site facility, frozen, distributed, and then finished baking in the regional food pantries.
·         Develop a vegetable and/or fruit based snack food that is savory, low in sodium, and low in calories from fat for school vending machines. The school district wants your team to develop two savory prototypes that have distinctly different flavor profiles and utilizes crops grown in New York State.
·         Create a healthy entrĂ©e school lunch item. It should be a “one pot dish” that can be frozen or thawed without negatively impacting quality. You should be able to serve it hot or cold.
·         Health-conscious consumers are looking to decrease their animal protein and sodium intake without sacrificing those savory flavors. You must develop a mushroom-based condiment that is stable at refrigeration temperatures for two weeks. The spread will be primarily used on sandwiches and with crackers.
·         An ice cream company wishes to revitalize its sales by offering a lower calorie option. Develop an ice cream that contains 15% less fat than the standard base composition for this company.

At the conclusion of this project, two prominent CIA alumni and CIA’s Director of Consulting kindly volunteered their time to serve as judges for the projects. Thank you to Jorge Collazo ’82, Head Chef for the NYC Department of Education, Kyle Shadix ’97, Corporate Executive Research Chef for PepsiCo Global R&D Beverage, and Ted Russin, MSc, Director of CIA Consulting.

Students who completed this project are pursuing their Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Science. Learn more about this program.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cook It In Your Mind First

by CIA Chef-Instructor John Reilly '88

When you first learn to cook it's all about following a recipe. As you grow and develop into a cook, you will start to rely on techniques, methods and ratios; you will put the recipes away and prepare dishes as an informed and educated cook.

Before you start to cook, you must be able to visualize the process.  You must map it out, strategize and plan.  It is at this point that you can go forward with great courage and passion.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Stars and Stripes 2014

By Ronnie Genee, Director for Residence Life
Every year The Culinary Institute of America holds its annual Stars and Stripes Weekend. This year we kicked off on Friday, June 27 with a movie in the new Marriot Pavilion. We showed Captain America: Winter Soldier and then sipped root beer floats outside on Heinz Plaza. (Appropriate, now that sassafras and other beverage-themed plants are growing on the plaza.)

It was a great start, but there was a lot more in store for Saturday and Sunday!

On Saturday, we treated the Hudson Valley to an amazing fireworks display that lasted over 20 minutes. Not to end the excitement early, we continued the evening with a DJ and dance on Anton Plaza from 10 PM – 1 AM. But what’s a CIA event without food? We served brownie sundaes on the plaza at midnight.

Just in case students didn’t have enough celebration, we also held our annual Stars and Stripes Block Party on Sunday from 12 -4 PM on our soccer field. With several clubs, organizations, and residence halls participating creating their own booths. We had field games, tie dye shirts by SPICE, eating contests, Stars and Stripes sunglasses, food tastings, and refreshments. Wait…there was more…we even brought to campus a stunt jump, water obstacle, sign making shop, and funnel cakes. We are also very grateful to have had the support of Smokehouse 220 for their generous support. They helped bring an amazing BBQ to the block party grilled by the RA staff of Hudson Hall.

Over the entire weekend, more than 600 students came to the various events. Everyone was excited to be with each other and celebrate an early Independence Day. And none of it would have been possible without the support of Student Activities, Recreation and Athletics, Residence Life, SPICE, and the leadership of the Stars and Stripes committee:  Elizabeth Zmarlicki – Student Activities Coordinator
Meka Harris – Resident Director of Rosenthal Hall
Ronnie Genee – Residence Director of Hudson Hall.

As always we look forward to next year’s Stars and Stripes and hope to see you there next time!

Check out our facebook photo album from Stars & Strips 2013.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Teaching Principles

by CIA Chef-Instructor Elizabeth Briggs

I find teaching Culinary Fundamentals is a huge responsibility.  I expect myself to prepare the student for their upcoming career in the food service industry.  I am responsible to teach them how to be teachable, to be humble, to listen, and to hear and understand the lessons of the day.  They need to think on their feet, to work with any type of person, to plan, and to organize. They need to work fast, clean, and neat. 

I need to teach them how to communicate and work as a cohesive group. I teach them to respect each other and each other’s ideas.  I help them to take direction from a group leader, but also to speak out in their group.  I help them come out of themselves and be an active part of the classroom, adding to their learning experience.

Sound like a lot? I’m not done… I am responsible for teaching them how to dress and to care for their whites. They need to know how to care for their personal hygiene throughout the class and their future endeavors in their profession.

And that’s all IN ADDITION to teaching them the culinary skills that they’ll build their education and careers on.


I have great expectations for my students!  I push them incredibly hard and I expect a great deal out of them. I feel overwhelmingly responsible to completely prepare them for the next phase of their education.

I love the fact that when my students leave my class at the end of the term and I look into their faces, there is no fear.  There is a sense of self-confidence and, I swear, they have grown three inches in the pride of accomplishment.  I am proud of how hard they have worked and how many layers of the onion they have peeled back to attain the foundation for their cooking journey.

“The only stupid question is the one you did not ask!”

As my students go into the kitchen of the Bocuse Restaurant on their pre-day one tour, we go from a very dark hallway into a crisp, white-tiled kitchen. We step from darkness into light and I tell them:

“Don’t stand in the doorway of Roth Hall on graduation day and say ‘I only wished I had studied harder!’ Make that commitment here with me today for an amazing educational journey through your learning experience at the CIA.”

Teaching has been THE most rewarding job I have ever had. The Culinary Institute of America has instilled in me that I am teaching the future of our industry.

Last week I read an article about influential women and men who had made a huge impact in our industry. And, in reflection, I spent 28 years helping most of them reach that goal. We teachers are the unsung heroes, but the reward for me is touching each person who has journeyed through my kitchens.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

5 Methods to Be Successful in a Kitchen or Pastry Class

by CIA Chef-Instructor Freddy Brash '76

  1. Every block students come to me to complain about their team in a production kitchen because their partner does not come in prepared. Come on, chefs! We know that we are supposed to review the recipes the night before. You can't wing it. Not here that The Culinary Institute of America. It's necessary to not just write down your recipes, but to write them down to memorize them and really understand them. Test yourself or with your teammate by reciting the recipe by memory. Impress your chef instructor!
  2. Attitude. Go to class that day with an attitude of gratitude. Attitude is the only thing that you can change, and of course, you can only change yours! Stay positive even if the going gets a little shaky. A positive attitude will bring results.
  3. Perspiration. You have to sweat a little and move in the kitchen. If the pot sink fills up, go and help out. If you are in a production kitchen feeding our fellow classmates, we have to speed it up. No plate goes in the window unless you taste it first and know that it's well-seasoned.
  4. Let go! If you have prepared really well and your brain and heart are in the right place, then you have to let go and wait for the results. Sometimes waiting in the hallway for another door to open is the toughest.
  5. Wait a minute, did I say five ways? One more—try to have fun and enjoy yourself. The CIA is fun, but requires real work. "Success" does not always mean an "A" or a pat on the back. Success can also mean that you did the best that you could on that day. However, if you let your teammates know that they did a good job that day, then you may also hear it back in return. Pay it forward and affirm your teammate's talents to be a real team.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

CIA Residence Halls: Facilities

By Ronnie Genee, Director for Residence Life

The first thing most new students want to know is what their residence hall room will look like. You may want to start off by reading my post, CIA Residence Halls: What to Bring.

Kitchen in the Lodges. Want to see what the facilities in your dorm look like? Visit our virtual tour.

So once I leave my room, what will I find in my residence hall? Let’s talk about that. Every hall has a:

Kitchen—You’ll have a meal plan and spend a lot of time in classroom kitchens, but many students enjoy cooking and baking their own food. We’re a culinary school, after all!

  • Hours: 9 a.m.–12 a.m. every day
  • Equipped with:
    • 2 Viking Stoves/Ovens 
    • Microwave Oven
    • Counter Space
    • Sinks
    • Communal Fridge
  • What you won’t find (and you may want to bring with you):
    • Pots & Pans
    • Utensils
    • Dishes
    • Foil & Plastic Wrap
    • Sponges
    • Pot Holders
    • Cutting Boards

Laundry Room—Want your chef whites to stay clean and bright? We do, too. That’s why our laundry facilities are free. Yes, FREE. Bring your own high efficiency laundry detergent. And if you’ve never done laundry before, we’re sure your parents will let you start practicing now.

  • Hours: 24/7

Computer Lab—Yes, there’s one in every hall. So, whether or not you choose to bring a printer to campus, you’ve got no excuse for not writing that paper. (And you will write papers, not just cook!)

  • Hours: 24/7
  • What you won’t find:
    • Printers—The only student-use printer is located in the Conrad Hilton Library.

We also have another great resource I should mention: Resident Assistant Offices. Each hall has several resident assistants, who are students who work in our residence halls to assist all the residents. They share an office located on the main level of every building. In these offices you can find garbage bags, toilet paper, cleaning supplies (such as mops and brooms), as well as fun items like board games.

If you should need any further information please feel free to leave a comment here or call the Office of Residence Life at 845-451-1260.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Who Comes to The Learning Commons?

by Jodi Amato, Manager, Learning Support Services

Students come to the Learning Commons.

Many come to study on their own, to work on projects, to take monitored tests and to consult with counselors but among the most important role is the help from tutors that is offered, free, to all AOS and BPS students.

There are 35 tutors working here, both students and professionals. Samantha Cancro will graduate in July and then will be on her way to a terrific job in Italy. She has been a tutor for a year and a half. She helps students improve their knife skills. Her other areas of expertise include advising with culinary math, and coaching for the costing practical exam and the 2nd and 5th term finals. She is a peer counselor for nutrition studies too.  She urges students to come to the Center often and on a regular schedule, particularly those enrolled in the Bachelor’s Degree program. She suggests that if you work well with a specific tutor, make an appointment in advance and stick with the guide who will reinforce the knowledge learned in any and every class from algebra to wines, mixology and spirits.

Michael McCarey is a 9th term student who has worked as a tutor since the early days of planning The Library Learning Commons. He is an expert “teacher” in the same areas as Samantha and his fields include microeconomics and baking and pastry.  He says, “Many students know they need help, but tend to hesitate and try to struggle along on their own. They need only ask, and they will find a hand to help with gastronomy and with setting goals. This assistance is available  from 8-11pm Monday-Thursday, 8-7 Fridays, Saturday 10-5 and Sundays 12-9.  

Other tutors in The Learning Center specialize in languages coaching engaging in conversation or even just using flash cards.

Two new additions to the writing tutors are Stephen Wilson and Theresa Edwards.  Wilson, (as he is generally called,) has been a writing instructor since 2002 following several years as a high school English teacher. He prefers to work with students, one on one, rather than in a classroom. He offers an understanding heart and vast pool of knowledge that he shares with those who are struggling with academics. He welcomes some who are desperately looking for help and others who are hoping to increase their level of expertise. He keeps what he calls, “a handle on their progress” and provides reassurance targeted to class instruction in this supportive environment.

Theresa Edwards has been a tutor since she was in high school.  She is an accomplished professional tutor with two Master’s Degrees; an M.A. in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. She has published three books of poetry. She joins the writing faculty in the Library Commons from Marist College. Her guidance is welcomed by those needing assistance with writing a cover letter and resume and with all areas of literary writing skills. She is particularly qualified to provide guidance with ESL and ELL students and, importantly, with SKYPE: enabling students on extern to communicate with her and receive advice about their all-important Journal.

Students, whether at the beginning of their time here at the college, or close to graduation, may spend a few minutes or up to several hours with their personal tutor. In the end they achieve higher grades and answers to baffling challenges. The best thing is that they leave with a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Not Just Good, I Want to be GREAT

CIA Chef-Instructor Tony Nogales shares his thoughts on learning, and perfecting, your skills. 

Every four years excitement in the futbol (soccer) world comes to a head as nations around the globe start to make their way to the World Cup. This year it happens to be in Brazil. Last week, I attended a futbol coach’s conference where one of the breakout sessions was “Brazilian style” passing drills. During his presentation, the coach spoke about his experiences in Brazil observing the various coaching techniques around the country. One of the biggest takeaways that he shared with us was the amount of repetition that the young players go through; bouncing and kicking the ball literally for hours against a backboard. He said that this constant repetition led to a more artistic and creative game.

The learning process of any craft has a lot in common with the learning process that those young soccer players experience. The value of repetition and perseverance, along with the constant analysis of product and process, are distinguishing traits that help differentiate the good from the great. There has been a lot written these days about traits such as repetition, stick-to-itiveness and grit. In Malcolm Gladwell’s  Outliers he states, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” To Geoffrey Colvin’s book Talent is Overrated, “The reality that deliberate practice is hard can even be seen as good news. It means that most people won’t do it. So your willingness to do it will distinguish you all the more.”

However, I think one of the most poignant points is from one of my favorite chefs, Thomas Keller. In Keller’s book, The French Laundry, as he goes through the introduction and describes his journey to opening his restaurant, there is a section called “Pleasure and Perfection.” This section epitomizes the feeling that cooks go through every day: the joy of repetition, the quest for perfection, and the pleasure in the task. To quote Keller, “This is the great challenge: to maintain passion for the everyday routine and the endlessly repeated act, to derive deep gratification from the mundane.” Whatever the task may be— peeling potatoes, washing spinach, dicing carrots—it should be done not with drudgery, but with the respect and analysis that comes with constant improvement. While it is important to have the end in mind, it is just as important or even more so to enjoy the process.

As we approach our everyday repetitive tasks in the kitchen—peeling vegetables, making stocks, fabricating proteins, practicing our precise vegetable cuts, making soups and sauces—the attitude in how we approach these tasks is extremely important. The joy is in the doing over and over and over, seeking constant improvement.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Options on the Horizon

by CIA Instructor Irena Chalmers

Irena Chalmers is the
author of Food Jobs
Countless hours are spent in classrooms. A phenomenal amount of physical and emotional effort is spent pursuing a degree, yet when graduation day arrives, too little time is devoted to thinking about and planning for what comes next. Too often, the first job offer is accepted because it is the only one on the table. Fortunately there are many opportunities waiting to be discovered.

There is nothing more satisfying than charting your own journey and sailing through the storm to your personal port. Having a sense of direction is infinitely less scary than being lost at sea. You have many destinations from which to choose.

You could be a private chef and travel with an international superstar or diplomat, or with an athlete who is competing on the world stage. Have you considered cooking on a small luxury yacht? You'd be responsible for preparing three meals a day, but you wouldn't need to worry about car payments or the rent for an apartment. Nor would you have to pay taxes on your income whenever you were at least three miles off shore.

Many major restaurants, fast food chains, and catering companies—including Aramark and Sodexo—have branches in several countries, as do hotels and food-processing companies. 

Employment in the US can lead to many travel opportunities abroad. Supermarkets and food-processing companies engage experts to travel the world in search of coffee, tea, cheese, chocolate, olive oil, pasta, cookies, and other prepared foods and raw ingredients.

Would you like to design vegan wedding cakes or prefer to be an ice cream sommelier or an event planner? A food scientist or the owner of a bed & breakfast? A TV star or a food cartoonist? A literary agent or a restaurant designer? A recipe tester or a flavor maker? The curator of food exhibits or a culinary librarian?

Are you interested in humanitarian causes? Have you thought about developing hunger relief programs or helping write sustainable agricultural or fishing policy? Perhaps you would consider working for a food-related foundation or charitable cause. Or you may want to work for a local soup kitchen, or a national organization like Share our Strength or Meals on Wheels, providing food for the frail and elderly. Investigate

It's admirable to volunteer, but there are many surprisingly well-paid positions to be found creating programs to counter cooking illiteracy.

Clearly these are all vastly different career paths. But if you are able to narrow your options, it becomes considerably easier to focus your research. If you are interested in science and technology, you may be able to strike art and design from your list. If you want to cook, explore the dozens of opportunities open to you in restaurants and food service. Similarly (or oppositely), if you yearn to become a writer, you may need to seek employment wherever a check can be found.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

So You Want to Be A Food Writer

By Nancy Cocola

Before I came to work at the CIA, I was already a writer. I’d written two books, many magazine and newspaper articles, countless magalogs and catalogs, and, yes, fabulous letters to my friends and family. Everyone said I had a way with words. But I worried just a little that writing about the vast topic of food, which was so new to me, would prove too complicated and difficult to master.

It wasn’t just that I needed to learn how to spell bain-marie or foie gras, it was that the language of food has its own rhythm and mysteries. Over time, I’ve absorbed lots of culinary knowledge, and, today, can even talk ingredients and techniques with our chefs without embarrassing myself. But ultimately what I have discovered is—and this is a comfort to me as a non-food professional—a knowledge of, and passion for, food does not necessarily translate into the creation of a great, readable article. You need writing skills.

Being the editor of the CIA’s alumni magazine means that three times a year I have to creatively put together a magazine filled with themed feature-length articles, personal interest stories, campus news, donor news, class notes, and, well, the list goes on and on. In the days before I actually start to write, you might peek into my office and think I’m not doing anything, just staring out my window. But while the view of the Hudson River is rather spectacular, I’m not idling, I’m thinking!

Yes, Thinking
Lots of people just start writing, assuming the muse Calliope will appear and guide the writing process—much as she did when Homer wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey. Nope. Not gonna happen. So, barring the arrival of your personal mythological Greek guide to writing, take the time to think your ideas through. Consider:

–Who is the audience for the specific publication or site? Are they seasoned chefs, business people, fellow students, or foodies?
Choose the culinary tone based on your audience’s level of expertise.
Is your topic of interesting and relevant to your audience? Does anyone but you have any interest in the topic?
What is the most important idea you want your reader to take away from your story?
Make sure the topic is narrow enough—people often try to cover too much ground, resulting in an unfocused piece.
Make an outline. I know it doesn’t sound as sexy as having a personal muse, but it can sure make the difference between a story that peters out midstream and one that has a beginning, middle, and end.
Put the piece in a drawer for a few days after you have finished writing. You’ll be amazed at how many things you will see that could use a little tweaking when you look at it again.
Show the piece to someone you respect and stay open to feedback.
Rewrite. This is the cornerstone of creating a brilliant piece.

All this advice aside, I really love to have alumni and students write for the alumni magazine. So, if you have an interest in writing and welcome the prospect of a persnickety editor poring over your ideas and writing, contact me at and maybe we’ll find a topic that works for the mise en place audience.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Spring Observations on the CIA Campus

by Andra Sramek, CIA Supervisor of Grounds, Recycling & Horticulture
Advice for your garden:
If your daffodils and/or tulips are past their prime, use a sharp scissor to cut off the developing seed heads where the flower once was. By cutting off the seed heads, you will be helping the nourishment go back to the bulb.  Neither daffodils or tulips reproduce by seed, so by doing this you are helping the bulb stay as strong as possible for next year's flowers. Also, do not cut off the foliage until it has turned completely brown. The leaves are photosynthesizing and sending "food" back to the bulb where it will soon go to "sleep" for the summer and winter. 
If the messy brown leaves are ruining the look of your garden or lawn, you can cut back the leaves by two-thirds, and you will not be sacrificing bulb health for neater looking garden.  But don't take more than two-thirds!

More spring thoughts...

Wisteria surrounds the front
entrance to Roth Hall.
1. Our hummingbirds are back on campus and have already discovered the feeder near the grounds garage.  Time to get your feeders back up at home as well. 
2.  Did you know that the praying mantis is the only insect that can turn its head?

3. Did you know that a honey bee can travel up to 60 miles in one day searching for food?  Three honey bees were observed checking out the campus dandelions two days ago.  IPM, Intergrated Pest Management, condones having dandelions in your lawn -- the flowers provide some of the first food sources for busy, busy bees.  

4. In the "Language of Flowers," the meaning of wisteria is "welcome."  You think the Jesuits knew this?  I do.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

When Food Meets Travel

by CIA Externship Advisor Maura McMahon O'Meara

Part of the allure of voyaging to foreign shores is discovering the flavors of the cuisine there. Food is a cornerstone of culture and studying the terroir, the ingredient, and the cooking methods employed in a region helps us better understand its economics, its art, and its people. Exploring different places and flavors is a pursuit very common to those of us in the food industry; the general consensus being that the broader you build your palate, the better you’ll understand flavor interactions and the better you’ll cook. For young culinarians just starting to open their eyes to the world of food, an acute case of Wanderlust often results.

It is precisely at that influential time in a cook’s life, that point of awakening, that I come along and begin talking to our first year students about options for externship. Barely a week goes by at The Culinary Institute of America without me encountering an inquiry about choosing the option to work abroad during the term of externship. The ambition is tangible, the dream is big, and I begin my explanation about how to approach this option that is filled with complicated processes and paperwork as much as it is filled with adventure.

The CIA currently has almost 50 approved partner locations outside of the United States who are willing to work with our students during externship. The foundations are set for the students already, but each applicant has to take a full assessment of their abilities and resources before pursuing this option. Below are some important questions to consider up front so that a potential traveller can figure out if this is a path they might explore.

Mandatory Research:

v What is the language? Are you fluent enough to LIVE there?

v What is the currency exchange rate?  Can you afford to LIVE there?

v What season will it be when I am proposing to go?  Do they hire then?

v How will I travel there? What will the flight cost?

v Am I eligible for a visa? Which kind of visa will the consulate require?

In July I met with a chef in Rome, Italy who sponsors CIA student externs. Chef Boswell speaks highly of his externs of the past and appreciates the skill level and seriousness they bring to their craft.  However, our conversation also included the sober reality that the rate of unemployment for Italian citizens aged 20-32 is over 30% right now.  In a socialist government, this current climate is a difficult one for chefs who advocate for hiring a foreigner for an entry level job.  It may be that for now, we will witness the quota allowed for students visas granted in Italy to dramatically decline. Familiarize yourself with the political climates of a location to fully determine the feasibility of your plan.

Desire to learn a traditional style of cuisine with boots on the ground in that country is admirable.  If that experience can happen for you during externship, great.  If it cannot happen then, your externship can still be a strategic step in getting you abroad within the first few years of your career in food.  If you want to go to France but cannot extern there, working for a French Chef in America like Daniel Boulud or Jerome Bocuse, will offer you great exposure to French cuisine and can open doors in France for you after graduation.  We also offer amazing Food, Wine and AgriCulture trips to foreign countries in our Bachelor programs that will stretch your culinary palate for miles. Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

CIA Residence Halls: What to Bring

By Ronnie Genee, Director for Residence Life

It is Tuesday morning and we just had several students move onto campus and into our residence halls. It so great to see new students move onto campus every three weeks and see how happy and excited they are to leave home… wait… I mean to come to college.

Well, all joking aside, I get a lot of calls from students and parents who want to know what to bring with them when they move onto campus. This seems like it would be an easy question, but there’s a lot of important information to know: What is already in the room? What can I bring? What do I need to bring? What do I want to bring?

First, we need to talk about the differences between each hall and what you’ll find in your room:

Hudson HallMost new students move in here. A few facts:
  • Dry. That means no alcohol, regardless of student age.
  • Communal Bathrooms. Wait. Stop. There are upsides to sharing a bathroom:

    1.  You don’t have to clean it! Professional CIA staff will clean it every, single day—including weekends!
    2. You’ll meet people. And we don’t just mean if you run out of TP. Walking to and from the bathroom is a great time to see who is around and say “hello” to a new friend.Note: Some rooms in Hudson have their own bathrooms, but most do not.

  • Furniture. You’ll get:
    •  Wardrobe Unit
    • Extra-Long Twin-Size Bed
    • Desk
    • Desk Chair
  • Other Room Features:
    • Wooden Blinds
    • Combo Heater & A/C Unit

Angell, Pick/Herndon, and Rosenthal HallThese are all very, very similar. 
  • Alcohol Policy. Students who are 21 years of age or older are allowed to have a limited amount of alcohol in their room.
  • Private Bathrooms. It’s all yours (and your roommate’s). That means it’s up to you to clean it. Unless you think your parents will come and clean it for you. Good luck with that.
  • Furniture. You’ll get:
    • Extra-Long, Twin-Size Bed
    • Desk
    • Desk Chair
    • Closet

So, now you may be thinking what do I need to bring. Well, as always there is a difference between need and want. What you most likely will need is the following:
  • Alarm Clock (or Phone Alarm Clock)
  • Bed Linens
  • Towels
  • Hangers
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Toiletry Items
    • If you’re living in Hudson Hall, you’ll want a shower caddy and shower shoes.
    • If you’re living in any of the other dorms, you’ll want a shower caddy that you can put over the shower head, bathroom rug, cleaning supplies, and possibly some deodorizer spray. 
Now, the list you are probably looking forward to the most is the list of things you probably want. Such as:
  • Throw Rug
  • Lamp (non-halogen)
  • Desk Light (with vents on the top)
  • Plastic Bins (to store items underneath your bed)
  • Compact Fridge (one 3.5 cubic foot or two 1.7 cubic foot refrigerators)
  • Microwave
  • Computer
  • Supplies for Kitchen-Use: Dishes, Pots & Pans, Sponges
  • Laundry Bag or Basket
  • Iron
  • Radio
  • TV/DVD Player (with Cable Wire)
  • Sewing Kit
  • Clorox Wipes and Other Cleaning Supplies
  • Surge Protector (that has a reset button or removal fuse)
…and since this is a culinary school…a First-Aid Kit (although we have a great Health Services Office on campus)
Well, I hope I covered everything and you now have a complete shopping/packing list. Please remember that although you will be here for 30 weeks before you leave for externship, time flies here at the CIA. You don’t need to bring everything you ever purchased or owned. Before you know it, you will be packing up to move out and head off on your externship.

With that being said, savor the moment and enjoy your time here at the CIA. This is a great place to learn and live and it is our hope that you make this your new home. So we look forward to seeing you soon and welcoming you HOME! If you should need any further information please feel free to leave a comment here or call the Office of Residence Life at 845-451-1260.

Want to learn more? Check out Ronnie's post on CIA Residence Halls: Facilities.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Farm to Table

by CIA Instructor Irena Chalmers

Alice Waters, the revered founder of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California, was Eve Felder’s mentor. Eve Felder is managing director of The Culinary Institute of America's Singapore campus. She also taught classes at The Culinary Institute of California, Hyde Park, New York campus.

She told the students they must support the farmers in their community.  Michael Ruhlman was in her class. He tells her story: “Eve had gone to an organic strawberry farm and picked strawberries. She then went to a farm that grew peas. She picked peas.  From there she visited a farm that raised chickens. She returned home, and picked some lettuce and herbs from her garden, and, surprised by all this Hudson Valley bounty, invited six people for dinner. That is what food is all about,” she said.

“Food is about community. It’s about the earth and really taking care of the earth.”

Professor Felder asked the question, “What does the food want? What does it taste like in its natural form?

“Young cooks often want to add more and more ingredients to a recipe but in fact, newly dug potatoes are going to be delicious with just a little bit of sherry-shallot vinaigrette and roasted garlic.  To understand food you must taste it, taste it and taste it again.  Trust your taste buds to be your guide—and your conscience.”

These words are from Michael Ruhlman’s book, The Making of a Chef, in which Michael writes a diary of his journey as a student at the CIA.  It is fascinating — indeed essential reading — for every chef, every cook and everyone who is thinking about embarking on a culinary career.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Livin’ High on the Hog!

By Guest Blogger Peety the Pig
Follow Peety on Twitter & Instagram @peetythepig

Just had a birthday of sorts! These really nice students helped me celebrate my 28-day milestone. For a hog like me, that means I've built up my immunity and can now supply my own antibodies—though I still can't quite figure out how I'm supposed to do that. Guess I'll just have to take their word for it.

Bottom line is, I’m less likely to get sick… so it’s party time!

Love that I’ve been getting more and more servings of that yummy dry food mixed with milk. I mean, I appreciate Mom and all, but it’s pretty cool being pampered by all these students and farmers at mealtime. 

Speaking of the students, they’re so good to me. They built my pen, and clean it out whenever I get, um, untidy. They created a great water system for all of us, and give us TLC when we need it. Oh, and did I mention the food?

At around 5 or 6 pounds—less than half the weight of my brothers and sisters—I need all the chow I can get.

And guess what? More good news! I’ve been dubbed the farm mascot! I’m so honored. Can’t wait to see what new adventures await me in my new role.

That's my dad! His name is Tony Soprano.

Monday, April 14, 2014

CIA Earth Day Challenge

by Louise Tompkins, ManagerFacilities

Twenty kitchen classes are starting today off on a green foot, jumping into this year's CIA Earth Day Challenge. Faculty signed on to reduce their paper towel use over the next three weeks, which includes Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22. Participating kitchens and bakeshops were provided some tools, including a special re-usable cloth and squeegees, and the rest is up to them!  The class having the biggest percent reduction will celebrate with a party. 

Last year the college challenged faculty to eliminate using trash bags for three weeks in kitchen garbage cans for Earth Day, and the result, was the permanent elimination of this practice. The hope is that this year's challenge will be a major step in reducing future paper towel use on campus.

Learn more about the CIA's Green Campus Initiative.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Teaching Fundamentals

I have a lot of thoughts on teaching a fundamental skill. First, you have to teach someone how to physically do something. Try telling someone how to tie their shoelaces. Most people think that this is the most important part of the class. I disagree. I used to believe that my job was teaching students how to make a muffin or a cake batter. But, it’s not that simple. 

My job is primarily to teach new baking & pastry students how to be successful in a professional bakeshop. There’s a lot encompassed in that statement. I find myself teaching students how to study, how to speak to a person in a higher position than them, how to respect each other and equipment, how to work clean and organized, how to stand, how to speak loud enough to be heard over equipment, how to work faster and still be accurate. The list just keeps going on. Nowhere did I mention teaching someone how to make a muffin. I believe that if you teach a person how to work, speak and organize themselves in a professional manner, they can always learn how to make something.

Don’t get me wrong; we spend a lot of time making baked goods and learning how to make your hands do what you ask them to do. That is a big part of this. But, it’s not the only part. Before the end of class, all of the students will learn how to make their list of fundamental products. Some of them have better hands than others and the hand work will come easier for them. In the end, they all manage to make that darn muffin. But, did I teach them how to be successful?

I think back to when I hired externs or recent graduates from culinary schools. What I was looking for in them was often quite different from what they thought they were going to be doing on the job. I wanted someone who would take direction, work clean and accurately, and be quick about it. I didn’t want a baker that was creative or inventive. I wanted someone who could pipe exactly like I piped and didn’t make a mess doing it or take all day. Young culinarians are notorious for wanting to “reinvent” what they are working on. They want to put their own individual stamp on all the products. That’s natural for them to want to express their creative side. But, as an employer, I can’t have that kind of anarchy going on in the shop. Everybody has to make the same formula, the exact same way, each and every day

I have to get students ready for that reality. They are going to have to just do what they’re told for a while, until they move up the chain of command.

It takes a tremendous amount of effort the get an individual to bend to your will. Most people will fight this and try to maintain their individuality. It’s my job to explain why I’m doing this so that the students can accept the reasoning behind what I’m doing. That’s how I start day 1 of class. I make an analogy to sports, specifically, training Michael Phelps for the Olympics. I have this mental picture of Michael being woken up at a very early hour to go to the pool and practice. If you’ve gotten out of bed when it’s still dark to go exercise, you know how hard it is to get out of a warm bed. I’m sure there were days when Michael Phelps wanted to stay under the covers. Without a doubt, it was his mother pushing him to get up on the days he wanted to sleep. She pushed him to practice. Once at the pool, I assume there was a coach with a whistle and a bull horn on the side of the pool yelling at Michael to “go faster”. If Michael Phelps were left in a pool by himself, he probably wouldn’t push himself quite as hard as his coach pushed him. Michael’s coach knew that if he pushed Michael, he would get faster and stronger. Maybe, even win a gold medal someday.

I feel like a coach, a coach who yells and insists on greatness. Nothing less is an option. I tell my students that I will yell and insist that they do things exactly how I said to do them. I explain that I’m doing this, not because I’m a mean person, but because I know this is the path to greatness. I won’t give up, and they know it. They all shake their heads while I’m talking. They agree that they want to be great. Why else would you come to the CIA? I remind them that having someone yell at you and tell you that you’re doing it wrong isn’t a pleasant experience. I know that there will be days when they don’t particularly like me. I’m OK with that. I know what I’m doing is going to make them better students. We go on this journey together. 

At the end of the semester I get lots of smiles, hugs, tears, wonderful cards expressing gratuity, and promises to come back and see me. Most of my students do stop back into my bakeshop to say “hi” and let me know how they’re doing. It makes my day when I see them progressing through the program and coming back from externship. I get to watch them succeed. I’m really very lucky. I have a great job that I love very much.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Being a Runt Ain’t So Bad

By Guest Blogger Peety the Pig
Follow Peety on Twitter & Instagram @peetythepig

1. Less is more. At birth, I weighed in at 18 oz, while all my brothers and sisters were around 2½ pounds. I’m light and ready to go places!

2. You try getting a little privacy with 35 piglets running around! But CIA students built me my own small pen, complete with heating pad and straw that smells like mom.

3. Feeding frenzy! It’s a mad dash at meal time and we’re hungry ALL THE TIME!! But you won’t see me wrestling with the pack. I prefer to dine in style. I’m hand-fed every three hours.

4. And the best part? My best friend, Brody! We never would have met if I didn’t need all that extra TLC. We play tag a lot. I can’t catch him….yet.

The Culinary Institute of America is raising Red Wattle Hogs as part of the American Food Studies: Farm-to-Table Cooking Concentration. Red Wattle Hogs are on the endangered list according to the Conservation Priority List (CPL). One of the reasons we have chosen this breed is to help provide genetically pure breeders to other interested farmers.