How did you become interested in food?
I loved cooking at an early age because in my mind, food always equaled
family. When I was old enough to walk, my nose led me to my Nana’s
kitchen. I spent a lot of time standing by her side, patiently waiting
to see what she was concocting. Her style was simple and
satisfying—chocolate cream pie and chicken parmesan were her
specialties. It was unpretentious food that had a way of bringing
everyone together with smiles on their faces. She cooked with love and
inspired me to keep sharing comfort, traditions, and stories through
Who most influenced you?
The chefs at Wegmans in Pittsford, NY encouraged me to pursue my dream
of enrolling at the CIA. Before attending the CIA I worked for Wegmans
part-time during college, followed by a year-long internship with the
company’s marketing department. I would talk to everyone and anyone who
would listen to me about food—where products came from, how to prepare
items, plating ideas, and flavor combinations. I realized that my
“hobby” could be my career and they encouraged me to seek out an
opportunity. Many of the chefs at Wegmans are CIA alumni and spoke
highly of their experience at the school. I knew that I wanted to
dedicate my life to the profession and their support made it seem
Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
I had some reservations before coming to school. I questioned my ability
to work in a high-volume kitchen. I had never worked in a restaurant
before and was afraid I would not be up to par. I worked hard in my
classes, practiced in my free time and asked for help. I’ve learned that
everyone is willing to help, and there is no shame in asking for it.
After all, a kitchen staff is a team!
Do you have a previous degree/career?
Before attending the CIA I graduated from The University of Rochester
with a BA in Political Science, a BA in Public Health, and a Certificate
in Management/Marketing. I spent one year after graduation working
with the marketing team at Wegmans Food Markets on their social media
Why did you choose the CIA?
My decision to apply to the CIA was a long time coming. I put my name on
the mailing list and was contemplating switching my college program
during my sophomore year. Ultimately, the timing was not appropriate, so
I put the idea of culinary school on the back burner until I graduated
college. I then decided to pursue a culinary career.
My interest in food, culture and hospitality was unwavering and I
knew I needed a more well- rounded education. After speaking to several
co-workers and CIA alumni at Wegmans, I knew that the CIA was the
opportunity that I was looking for. The program was focused on technical
skills, food history, management and nutrition. It was more
comprehensive than any other school, and it would provide me with a
richer education than I could obtain from just simply working in the
What do you like best about CIA?
I love the culture and the focus. Everyone is here for the same reason
and the professionalism at this school never ceases to amaze me.
Students wake up at 5 a.m. excited and anxious for class. They all
“speak” food and are always searching for opportunities to experience
food in the community.
What are your career goals/plans?
I would eventually like to own a restaurant—something I never considered
before attending the CIA. In the meantime, I love writing and learning
about the connection between cultural traditions and food. Ideally, I
would like to travel, learn and experience as much as possible, while
perhaps doing freelance writing on the side. I am currently searching
for my next opportunity and thinking about a career in restaurant
management after I graduate.
Any advice for prospective students?
Seek out every opportunity to learn. Volunteer to work in kitchens so
you can see the dynamic, management styles and learn new techniques and
preparations. Email people who inspire you. They have been in your shoes
at one point and can give the best advice. Ask your peers and
co-workers questions and be inquisitive. Everyone has different
experiences and backgrounds that you can learn from. Lastly, be fearless
in your home kitchens. Ideas in food do not always work but you learn a
lot along the way.