Amanda Freitag, CIA culinary arts alumna

Alumni Bio: Amanda Freitag

Culinary Arts
Judge for The Food Network

Amanda remembers her CIA experience as happy and eye-opening. She recalls getting up at 4 a.m. for egg cookery class and seeing ice floes pass by on the Hudson River as she walked across campus. She remembers struggling with bread baking and the joy of eating sweetbreads for the first time. She remembers learning about the importance of “working clean” from a truly hard-core teacher. And she fell in love with authentic Italian food rather than the Americanized version of that cuisine.

After graduation, Amanda took her curiosity and skills on the road in what could be called a journey of discovery. She got to work the line for, and sometimes with, Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Vong, where she discovered exciting Thai flavors. She then took a job in the very mellow kitchen at Verbena, led by Diane Forley, where she worked her way up to chef de cuisine and learned the rhythm of the seasons and the joys of the farmers’ markets. Amanda spent two glorious weeks working under Alain Passard at L’Arpège in Paris. After that, there was a stint under Sara Jenkins at Il Buco, where every ingredient was imported from Italy. Amanda had the “ground-up” experience at Cesca, where she developed the menu and kitchen staff herself. And later, at The Harrison, she learned that it is a lot harder to work with an existing crew and change the culture of an existing restaurant. Clearly, her restaurant experience was wide-ranging and it brought her to the attention of the Food Network.

The network invited her to compete on Iron Chef America against Iron Chef Bobby Flay. She says, playfully, that till her dying day, she will debate the single point that separated her from the win! Despite the loss, her personality came shining through, and the network invited her to become a judge on Chopped. Amanda also co-host American Diner Revival with Ty Pennington on the Food Network and was a featured presenter on Unique Eats on the Cooking Channel.

On September 29, 2015, Amanda published her first cookbook, The Chef Next Door: A Pro Chef’s Recipes for Fun, Fearless Home Cooking. She is grateful to the CIA for giving her an incredible base of skills and knowledge that enabled her to have the work experiences that made her into the chef she is today. Visit Chef Freitag's website >

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