The Culinary Institute of America

J. Hunter Evans, CIA advanced career experience (ACE) student, has the opportunity every three weeks to pick the brain of a new chef...to see how they operate, manage, their view of food, and how they resolve problems.

Spotlight On: J. Hunter EvansAssociate Degree for Advanced Career Experience (ACE)

Class of 2014
Hometown: Jackson, Mississippi
"The best part about the CIA is the chefs. Every three weeks I have the opportunity to pick the brain of a new chef...to see how they operate, manage, their view of food, and how they resolve problems."

How did you become interested in food?
I worked in restaurants through college and loved it. I wanted to know as much as I could about food and cooking so I began to look at the CIA. Because of my previous kitchen experience, a chef encouraged me to apply for the ACE program.

Who most influenced you?
I have had several people along the way that have supported me—parents, chefs, friends, the Mississippi Restaurant Association—but at the end of the day, cooking and being around food is something that I’m passionate about. I didn’t need anyone to tell me to pursue this career path, just support me in my decision.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
Moving up to Hyde Park, NY from Mississippi wasn’t easy but when you are following your passion, you learn to be okay with it. The financial aspect was also a challenge. In the end, I know that all my hard work and dedication will pay off personally, professionally, and financially and it will have been worth it.

Do you already have a degree from another college or did you previously have a different career?
I have a degree in hospitality management from The University of Mississippi.

Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I belong to Slow foods and The Gourmet Society.

Why did you choose the CIA?
The reason I chose the CIA is the same reason why it is so hard to get a table at The French Laundry—because it’s the best.

What do you like best about CIA?
The best part about the CIA is the chefs. Every three weeks I have the opportunity to pick the brain of a new chef in a new class. You get to see how they operate, how they manage, their view of food and cooking, and how they resolve problems. As a student who one day wants to be in a management role, I’m taking notes not only on the foods we cook but how they handle and manage different situations.

What are your career goals/plans?
My immediate goal is to move to New York City and work under a really great chef for a few years to learn as much as I can and gain solid experience. In this industry you never stop learning.

Any advice for prospective students?
If you are unsure about attending the CIA, first get a job in a kitchen. Work long hours and learn as much as you can. You will quickly learn the reality of this industry. If you love it, gain your experience and then come to this college. You will not only be a better student, you will be a better chef in the end.

The Culinary Institute of America

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