The Culinary Institute of America

Aaron Gonnelly

Spotlight On: Aaron GonnellyCulinary Arts

Class of 2014
“What really stands out is that every student is here for the same reason—we all LOVE food. It’s our way of life.”

How did you become interested in food?
I was inspired by my grandfather Andrew F. Burke. I remember spending time with him in the kitchen when I was a child helping with family and holiday dinners. As a result, I decided to take a VoTech program in high school, where I learned all the basics, as well as learning from a CIA Alumni working at a Country Club.

Who most influenced you?
I would have to say my mother Kelly Gonnelly. When I told her I wanted to be a chef, she was so pleased that I had finally found something that I wanted to do with my life and that I loved. She has been so supportive throughout my time here. Cooking is something we can do together. When I’m home, all we do is cook!

Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
Some of the skill development courses were definitely a challenge for me, but the tutoring center really worked one on one with me to better my skills. Meat and fish fabrication was also a challenge for me, but the Chefs worked with me one on one to help me better my skills.

Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose the CIA because of the reputation. When you go out into the industry, it is looked at as the best culinary school in the world. If you want to be the best at what you do, you have to go to the best school.

What do you like best about CIA?
There are many things that I absolutely love about the CIA. One of them being the diversity on campus. There are so many people from different cultures and ethnicities here on campus and I love having the chance to learn from and interact with so many different types of chefs. You get to work with Certified Executive Chefs, Certified Master chefs, and Certified Master Pastry Chefs. What really stands out is that every student is here for the same reason—we all LOVE food. It’s our way of life.

Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I work at the student recreation center, so I get to interact and help with all the student clubs on campus. I usually get involved with all the sports as a team assistant.

What are your career goals/plans?
I would love to be an Executive Chef in New York City. It is a life-long dream of mine to be able to lead a kitchen crew and earn a Michelin star.

Any advice for prospective students?
If you’re serious about this industry and considering going to culinary school—DO it. The CIA is the best culinary school in the world, and you should take the opportunity to learn from the best—then be the best you can be.

The Culinary Institute of America

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