Almost every student who attends the CIA has a pivotal moment when they know it is the right place for them. Camille Cogswell ’13 is no exception. She describes her visit to campus while searching for the right culinary college this way, “I was taking the tour and looking through the glass at the students in the bakeshops and kitchens,” she explains. “I got tears in my eyes envisioning myself in those kitchens and seeing the potential that they held for me.” Her folks saw the tears too, and in that moment, everyone knew the CIA was going to be Camille’s place.
And from then on, Camille has never missed an opportunity to learn from her mentors and grow as a professional pastry chef. Along with her CIA education, it was her internship under Dan Barber at Blue Hill Stone Barns that reinforced the values of high standards and hard work. She took her skills and that approach to her first job under pastry chef Alex Grunert at Brooklyn Fair as part of the opening team at the Manhattan location. From there, Camille went to the pastry department at award-winning NoMad to work under Mark Welker, whose desserts showed her the importance of creating an emotional connection between food and diner, a consideration that informs her pastry creations today.
When her now-fiancé, CIA graduate Drew DiTomo, found himself working in Philadelphia, Camille made the bold decision to leave New York and find a job in the City of Brotherly Love. She began as a pastry cook at Zahav—a highly regarded Israeli restaurant—working under award-winning chef Mike Solomonov. Two months after starting, she was asked to take on managing the pastry operation. Camille will admit that leadership is challenging, but she is thriving—as evidenced by her two consecutive James Beard Award nominations for Rising Star Chef, which she won in 2018!
How has receiving the James Beard Award changed her life? Camille will tell you, “Day-to-day life feels almost the same, just a little more exciting. My team and I have more motivation, more confidence, and an affirmation that what we are doing has been noticed in such a positive way.” While still feeling her way as a pastry chef, Camille believes the award is meant to acknowledge her potential, inspiring her to grow and innovate.