The Culinary Institute of America

Hogan Popkess LG

Spotlight On: Hogan PopkessBPS Culinary Arts Management

Class of 2014
Hometown: Topeka, KS
"The CIA is simply the best. The level of professionalism, as well as the expertise and knowledge my instructors have of the industry, is outstanding. I looked into other schools, but none had the reputation, prestige, and excellence as the CIA."

How did you become interested in food?
From a young age, I have loved being in the kitchen with family. After my mother passed away, when I was just six years old, I was left with a kitchen full of tools and books heaped with recipes. My love for culinary arts developed over the years following her passing as I cooked with my grandmas and aunts. There was nothing more comforting and rewarding than preparing a meal for my dad and younger brother, and to this day, nothing more rewarding than preparing meals for others.

Who most influenced you?
In high school, I constantly saw my classmates and friends trying to pursue careers that were not rewarding and they ended up working in an environment that they hated. I chose to pursue this career because I want to follow my passion and do something that I love to do every day.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
For generations, my family has pursued the family business, owning and operating funeral homes. My grandfather always expected me to be successful by becoming a doctor or lawyer. My decision to pursue the CIA upset him greatly and caused some tension between family members. Over time, however, he finally realized that I am doing something with my life that I want to do, and not what anyone else wants me to do. My decision was solely based on my passion and desire to attend the CIA, which he understands now. Fortunately, he, as well as the rest of my family, is now very supportive of my decision.

Why did you choose the CIA?
The CIA is simply the best. I wanted nothing less than the best. The level of professionalism, as well as the expertise and knowledge my instructors have of the industry, is outstanding. Everyone here is working toward the same goal and is passionate about the same things. I looked into other schools, but none had the reputation, prestige, and excellence as the CIA.

What do you like best about CIA?
I love that everyone on campus is here for the same reason. We are all focused and passionate about this industry and we are all working toward the same goals. If you need help with a class, there are always plenty of people that are more than willing to help. The CIA community is extremely strong and tight-knit.

What are your career goals/plans?
At the moment, I have no idea where I want to end up after graduation. People ask me all the time what I am going to do after graduation, and my simple answer is that I can’t decide because I haven't experienced it all yet. I want to travel and cook for a few years while continuing to learn and perfect my skills. I would like to work in different parts of the country, as well as globally, and work with as many types of cuisine before I settle down anywhere.

Any advice for prospective students?
Applying for the CIA was the best decision of my life. I have learned more than I ever imagined I would and have matured as an individual and a chef tremendously. The one regret I have is that I didn't do all that I could when I first started. If I could start from the beginning again, I would be involved in as many activities and clubs as I could and study, study, study! It’s incredible what you can learn from just ten minutes of reading.

The Culinary Institute of America

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Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499

845-452-9600