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.