The Culinary Institute of America


Spotlight On: McKenna BristolAOS Culinary Arts

Class of 2014
Hometown: Fortuna, CA
"The CIA has the best atmosphere. All of the students are hungry to learn and succeed. I have never been to a school before where the students are so eager and professional."

How did you become interested in food?
Growing up, I thrived on my imagination and channeled that into elementary school arts and crafts. At the age of 14, I realized that decorating cakes is an art that you can eat! I began baking cakes from scratch and decorating them with butter cream, fondant, and gum paste figurines for my friends and family. I enrolled in culinary classes during high school and traveled to New York City and Chicago to tour culinary schools and world renowned restaurants. It was my senior year in high school when I decided that, even though I was set on going to culinary school, I should focus on culinary arts rather than baking and pastry for the reason that the world needs more women chefs.

Who most influenced you?
I have been dreaming of pursuing a culinary career for as long as I can remember. Whether it was baking my friend’s birthday cake or helping prepare the family’s Thanksgiving feast, I have always been fascinated with food. My friends and family have always stood beside me and pushed me to chase my dreams, and when it came to going to the CIA, it was no different. They are always there to encourage me and now that I am receiving a proper culinary education, you better bet they are really looking forward to me helping with Thanksgiving.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
Coming to the CIA right out of high school was quite the challenge in and of itself. I knew coming into it, that I wouldn’t be attending your average college where you have different classes on different days at different times with different people. At the CIA, you are in the kitchen eight hours a day, every day, with the same small group of people, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. By the end of this program, we will all know each other better than we could ever imagine, and be fully prepared to work in the industry.

Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose the CIA because they are indeed the world’s premier culinary college. Not only do they have a beautiful campus and amazing faculty, but they have high standards and the top curriculum. They chefs push you to your limit because they know you are capable of achieving excellence. You have opportunities to build professional relationships with not only your chef instructors, but also chefs in the industry. And once you graduate, you will always be a part of a supportive network that you can always turn to.

What do you like best about CIA?
The CIA has the best atmosphere. All of the students are hungry to learn and succeed. I have never been to a school before where the students are so eager and professional.

Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
With the CIA offering so many clubs, it is hard to choose which to join! I am currently a member of the yoga, Asian Cuisines, cheese, and BBQ clubs.

What are your career goals/plans?
I plan to continue my studies in the bachelor’s program at the college’s Hyde Park, NY campus. After graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I plan to become a chef at a top-of-the-line restaurant in New York City, possibly travel, and live my life making people’s taste buds dance.

Any advice for prospective students?
Chase your dreams and never look back! By attending the CIA, you will get everything you could ever want and more out of a culinary education. You will be light years ahead of everyone else when you enter the industry.

The Culinary Institute of America

1946 Campus Drive
Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499