The Culinary Institute of America

CIA culinary arts student, Brandon Soto says, “If you want to be a great lawyer you go to Harvard Law School. I wanted to be a great chef, so I came to the CIA.”

Spotlight On: Brandon SotoAOS Culinary Arts

Class of 2014
Hometown: Newburgh, NY
"I have devoted myself to making my dream a reality. If you want to be a great lawyer you go to Harvard Law School. I wanted to be a great chef, so I came to the CIA."

How did you become interested in food?
I come from a large Italian family so food was, and is, a very important part of our life. I became more and more inquisitive as I watched my great grandmother cook. After she passed away, my aunt who works in the Continuing Education department here at CIA, brought me to a kids Boot Camp during the summer of 2002. From that moment on, my passion and love of food grew even more.

Who most influenced you?
I would without a doubt have to say my mother. No matter what I chose to do with my life, she would support me. Having the love and support of someone is a large part of what one needs to become successful in their desired field of study. Luckily I have my Mom and without her support I don't know where I would be.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
I would say finances were my biggest challenge. Hard work, determination, faith, and the love and support of my family are what helped get me to the CIA.

Why did you choose the CIA?
I took my first cooking class at the CIA when I was seven years old. I remember saying that I would attend the CIA one day. Since then, I have devoted myself to making my dream a reality. If you want to be a great lawyer you go to Harvard Law School. I wanted to be a great chef, so I came to the CIA.

What do you like best about CIA?
I like how everyone is a professional. Successful chefs, act in a highly professional manner, unlike how they are depicted on television. It is an honor and privilege to be called a CIA student. Having that distinction, makes my experience here, that much more meaningful.

What are your career goals/plans?
Short term, my goals simply consist of doing well in my wines class. After graduation, I plan to continue on to the bachelor’s degree program.

Any advice for prospective students?
I would tell them to make sure that they have the proper work experience. It is extremely important to understand the realities of working in the foodservice industry. Culinary arts and baking and pastry arts are very rewarding and challenging professions. You must be passionate and devoted to this career path to be successful.

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