Caroline Lynch had a typical college experience while studying mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. But while watching an episode of Unwrapped on The Food Network, Caroline got introduced to the world of food science. She thought, “I need to do this,” and immediately switched schools—ultimately earning a bachelor’s degree in food science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Determined to round out her education, Caroline began researching culinary schools. “Throughout high school and college I worked at a number of restaurants in the front of the house,” says Caroline, senior manager, research and innovation for plant-based food and beverage at Danone, an international dairy product company. “After getting my degree I knew I wanted to go into product development and a culinary background would make me more marketable,” she explains. “I looked at a lot of programs but found the Accelerated Culinary Arts Certificate Program at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone was perfectly tailored to what I wanted to get out of culinary school. The name, history, and esteem of the school was a real draw and the shortened time frame allowed me to complete the program in two 15 week semesters.”
“One of the highlights of my time at the CIA was living in the Napa Valley. Pulling up to the school amidst fields of vineyards was awe inducing,” Caroline says. “The people I met were amazing and are now lifelong friends. I had never been so deeply immersed with a group of people who shared the same passions that I did. My fellow students and the top-notch chef-instructors brought so much to the experience and pushed me to be better than I ever thought possible.”
A facet of the curriculum was a real eye opener for Caroline. “One of the biggest surprises for me was learning about the kitchen brigade,” she says. “It’s almost military in its hierarchy. The crucial lesson I learned was to always be prepared and have your mise en place in order. It changed the way I work in my everyday life and my career.”
After graduating with her certificate, Caroline quickly found work with Cadbury Adams as a senior associate scientist, Mattson & Company as a senior food technologist in product development, and IDEO as a senior food designer in food science and culinology. “Seeing one of my first products on the shelf of a grocery store was a major moment for me,” she recalls.
Within the first month at IDEO, Caroline was sent to Vietnam to work on a project for a new beverage. “It was outside their normal scope of business and they needed help with the formula in conjunction with Ideo’s Tokyo office,” says Caroline. “Being in a field that demands using both left brain and right brain thinking is quite challenging. It’s been a process to learn how to maintain culinary creativity while needing to reproduce a product on a large-scale.”
“I know for a fact that my CIA education has gotten me to where I am today,” Caroline says. “I’m the total package having my bachelor’s degree and my certificate from the CIA. If you have the opportunity to enroll in the ACAP program at the CIA, go for it. Don’t be intimidated by other people’s history or experience level. You get down to basics and learn from the foundation up. Cherish your time at school and the experience. The people you meet will be with you for a lifetime.”