The Culinary Institute of America

Aaron Gross

Spotlight On: Aaron GrossAOS Culinary Arts

Class of 2013
Hometown: Belton, TX
"I started my restaurant experience in the back of the house, and I just didn't like it," he explains. "After three weeks, I switched to the dining room and loved it."

Moving Right Along
Aaron Gross knows a little something about moving. Originally from Belton, TX, Aaron grew up in a military family that moved around a lot, and learned early on how to adjust to changing situations in his life.

So when—after eight years of gymnastics that included a trip to the nationals—he tore his rotator cuff and could no longer compete, he didn’t sit around moping about it. “Now that I had a life again, my high school classmate, Daniel Combs, introduced me to cooking,” he says. “We were in a high school culinary arts program and did ProStart competitions together. We actually won the regionals in Texas and moved on to states. We had a great chance to win there, but had this little incident where we forgot the carrots. You live and learn!”

And when it was time to decide where he wanted to live and learn for his college years, the choice came easy to Aaron. “I decided to go to the CIA because it’s the best there is, to better prepare me for my future,” he explains. “Daniel was considering another culinary school, but I talked him into coming here.”

As Aaron was getting situated, signing up for the college’s Cross Country team didn’t occur to him right away. “I used to be a terrible runner, as recently as about six months ago,” he says. “I started running with my father, trying to keep pace with him. I finally just broke that mental barrier. I push myself more with other people to motivate me.”

He wanted to stay active and do something on campus, so when friend Annelise McAuliffe kept bugging him to join Cross Country, Aaron finally relented. “It wasn’t easy at first,” he recalls. “Our first practice, I ran to Dunkin’ Donuts and back, about six miles, and I was dying. Now it’s like nothing.”

The experience of competing on an intercollegiate team keeps getting better for Aaron too. “We’re definitely a team with great camaraderie,” he says. “We run for each other. I didn’t even know these guys before, and now we’re all good friends. Plus Coach (Lowell) Fisher is amazing. He pushes us, and has such a passion for Cross Country that it’s contagious. His dedication is inspiring.”

That inspiration helped the team to unprecedented success in the Hudson Valley Men’s Athletic Conference during the 2012 season. The CIA Steels had its best-ever finish in the standings, and took second place in the 8k conference championship race at Bard College.

When it comes to finding inspiration in class, Aaron has decided that he much prefers being in the front of the house. “I started my restaurant experience in the back of the house, and I just didn’t like it,” he explains. “After three weeks, I switched to the dining room and loved it.”

That spirit of service also led him to pursue a position as a Resident Assistant (RA) on campus. “It’s fun to help new students,” he says. “As an RA, you’re often the first person they see when they move in. It’s rewarding, but there’s a lot of planning with classes and Cross Country practice and RA duties. My best friend has been my calendar app on my iPhone. You make it work.”

Just as he plans on “making it work” for his career after graduation. “I’d like to stick around in the CIA Manager In Training program, hopefully in the front of the house at The Bocuse Restaurant,” Aaron says. “Long-term I’d like to work my way up to captain in a prestigious New York City restaurant. I’d also like to keep studying wines, and maybe take a European excursion.”

Sounds like Aaron is going to just keep on moving once he leaves the CIA. But hey… he’s used to it.

The Culinary Institute of America

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