The Culinary Institute of America

Nilson Chaves Netto, CIA culinary arts student, initially went to law school. Eventually, he realized his passion was to be in the kitchen and decided to pursue cooking at the CIA as a career.

Spotlight On: Nilson Chaves NettoAOS Culinary Arts

Class of 2016
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"I took a French culinary program and it really opened my eyes and mind to new ideas, cooking methods, and ways to become a better chef. I decided to take what I learned and study at the best culinary school in the world...the CIA."

How did you become interested in food?
Food and cooking has always been a part of my life ever since I was a boy. I loved spending time in the kitchen helping prepare meals with my family. My love of cooking grew into a passion and I hope to turn that passion into a successful career.

Who most influenced you?
My parents were my biggest influence. They have always been very supportive of me and have encouraged me to follow my heart.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
Coming to the U.S. from another country is difficult. Coming to the U.S. from another country and not speaking English as a first language is a challenge. My fellow classmates have been a great help to me with my English. They are very supportive and willing to help me find the right word or sentence and correct my English. I am very appreciative of this because that is the best way you learn to speak another language. One of the other great things about the CIA is that you meet people from all over the world. Everyone is here because we love food, so you could say we all speak a common language.

Do you already have a degree from another college or did you previously have a different career?
Yes. When I was 17 years old, I decided to go to law school. While I thought this was the career for me, I couldn’t see myself stuck in an office dealing with paperwork all day. The kitchen was where I felt relaxed and comfortable, so I decided to pursue cooking as a career. It was a great decision because I can’t imagine pursuing any other career.

Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
There is always something going on at the CIA. From sports, fun activities, to culinary events with world-renowned chefs, where you have the opportunity to meet new friends, socialize, and relax outside of the kitchen and classroom.

Why did you choose the CIA?
I have always been a fan of excellent food and hospitality. When I was in Brazil, I took a French culinary program and it really opened my eyes and mind to new ideas, cooking methods, and ways to become a better chef. I decided to take what I learned and study at the best culinary school in the world. The CIA is all about excellence and it is the best place to learn about this industry, perfect your skills and knowledge, and become the culinary professional you always wanted to be.

What do you like best about CIA?
The professionalism. Even though we are still students, the chefs treat us as if we are professionals so when you graduate, you are well prepared for a career in this industry. They teach you how to master your skills in both front and back-of-the-house. One of the great things about the CIA, is that it provides you with every opportunity to be successful both personally and professionally.

What are your career goals/plans?
Short term, I would like to work in a successful restaurant learning as much as I can and expanding my skills cooking different foods. Long term, I would like to have my own restaurant. The best feeling is when you work really hard in the kitchen, see your food perfectly plated, and then watch someone really enjoy what you prepared. There is nothing better in the world.

Any advice for prospective students?
This is the best culinary school in the world. If you are serious about a career in this industry then there is no better place than the CIA to pursue that passion and a culinary career.

The Culinary Institute of America

1946 Campus Drive
Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499

845-452-9600