Students often make valuable connections at The Culinary Institute of America, and that was especially true for Carolina Gomez. That’s where she met fellow student Jason Story ’11, who would not only become her husband, but her business partner as well.
After getting married, the couple began planning their professional futures and decided to open the Straw Stick & Brick Delicatessen in Carolina’s hometown of Washington, DC. It was always Carolina’s goal to return to DC and dedicate her professional skills to the community, and her CIA education helped make it happen.
“The CIA gave me the knowledge and the tools to be able to run my own business,” she says. “Jason and I make basically every sort of prepared meat, so we have kielbasa and andouilles, we have pâtés, smoked salmon, tasso ham, guanciale, pancetta.”
That knowledge was developed not only in the kitchens and classrooms of the CIA, but during her externship at Mie n Yu in Georgetown, where Carolina focused on farm-to-table programs and learned the importance of sourcing from local farms and producers. She was responsible for speaking with farmers and finding new purveyors, and as she began to realize the benefits of using whole animals, she developed a small sausage program for the restaurant. The seeds of a future business plan were sown.
When she returned to campus following externship, Carolina focused on enhancing her entreprenuerial skills and further studying the business side of food in the college’s bachelor’s degree program. She realized that her career goals required that she take that extra step.
“You don’t have to go to the CIA to be a cook,” she says. “But if you want to be a chef, if you want to be a really respected foodservice professional, you go to the CIA.”
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