Aaron Tarpley, CIA student

Spotlight On: Aaron Tarpley '16Bachelor's Degree in Culinary Arts Management

Hometown: Jacksonville, NC
Military Branch: U.S. Army
"I want to be the kind of chef who creates food outside of the box and one that is continually learning and experiencing new cuisines."

How did you become interested in your major?
I am currently enrolled in the bachelor’s program studying Latin Cuisine: New World Flavors, Ingredients, and Techniques. I chose this concentration because I attended a ceviche workshop with Chef Remolina and I loved it. I am the type of person who enjoys learning about and experiencing food from different regions. I want to be the kind of chef who creates food outside of the box and one that is continually learning and experiencing new cuisines.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue this career?
My grandmother was an awesome home cook and a true master in the kitchen. Her cooking inspired me to pursue this career path and Chef Gigliotti continues to inspire me every day to learn and experience as much as I can so I can become the best chef I can be.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
I was in the Army for nine and a half years with a deployment to Iraq and a deployment to Afghanistan as a combat engineer. I always feared that I started cooking way too late in life and that I'd have to play catch up. It was a hard transition from military life to culinary student life but anything worth having, is worth the risk.

Why did you choose the CIA?
I only want to be the best and the CIA is the world’s premier culinary college, so it was the only choice for me.

What do you like best about the CIA?
I have learned so much about myself and cooking. I feel at home here. I always say I traded my M4 for a chef knife and I’m not looking back, only forward to my next career.

What advice would you give to new students?
PATIENCE. PATIENCE. And more PATIENCE. My advice to new students would be to utilize the tutoring service at the Learning Commons. If you ever feel like you need a little help with any of your classes, this is the place to go. The college wants you to succeed and there are so many resources available to help you. Everyone here shares a common passion for food. Stick with it. Ask questions. Learn something new every day. And ask for help when you need it.

What are your career goals or plans right after graduation?
I plan on taking a little break for a week to just breathe and be a civilian. I really would love to be involved in the opening of a new restaurant and have the opportunity to learn every aspect of the business. It would be so satisfying to know that I was a part of something right from the beginning and to watch it turn into something great.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering attending the CIA?
You are never too old to pursue your passion and follow your dreams. There is always something new to learn and opportunities to better yourself. Enrolling at the CIA was the best decision I've made because I have grown so much.

The Culinary Institute of America

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