• CIA Externship Spotlight: Aastha Bhaiyya ’25 on Externship at Indaco

  • CIA Externship Spotlight: Aastha Bhaiyya ’25 on Externship at Indaco

    A Day in the Life of a Pastry Chef Extern

    Tina M. Cortez ’26 is a Food Business Management major.

    Paid internship experience (or “externship,” as we like to call it in this industry) is a big thing for CIA students. After your first two semesters of kitchen classes, you have the opportunity to work in a business of your choice for one semester to get hands on professional experience.

    Aastha Bhaiyya ’25 is a third semester Baking and Pastry Arts CIA student currently on extern at Indaco Italian Restaurant in Charleston, SC. Aastha is originally from Mumbai, India but spent most of her time in Edison, NJ.

    Her baking journey started when her family decided to move back to India after living in New Jersey for a little bit. After spending some time in India, Aastha realized one of the things she missed the most were all the sweet treats she had in New Jersey. However, because it was so hard to find these exact treats, her mom encouraged her to make them and bought her all the ingredients. This then led Aastha here to CIA.

    Aastha Bhaiyya - Pastry

    Aastha took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her externship experience so far.

    Explain your responsibilities and how long a typical shift is.

    I am the pastry chef at Indaco in Charleston, SC. I’m in charge of creating their entire summer dessert menu! I’ve been testing and developing recipes for a few weeks now, and once I was happy with the end results, I presented them to the managers and other chefs. I got their approval, and we launched the new menu a few days ago. I’ll be recipe testing new ideas as time goes on and introducing new things! My shift differs each day, since I am in charge of prep as well as service, but usually ranges between eight–ten hours.

    I am also able to work with their marketing team, since I do enjoy food media! So, for that part of the job, I get to sit in on the marketing meetings and pitch ideas for the restaurant I’m working at. I’ve been doing some food photography and videography as well.

    What three words best describe your externship and why?

    Creative: Since I am getting to try and create my own dishes for the menu!

    Educational: Since I’m able to understand more about how a kitchen works and learn so much from all the other chefs I get to work with.

    Lucky: I think I am super lucky to have found such a great place to work at that is willing to give me so many opportunities and space to work and experiment, while being in a super positive work environment!

    Aastha Bhaiyya - Eating Dessert

    In what way do you think this externship is helping you in your career?

    Before going on extern, I thought I wanted to go into food media. Even though I go to culinary school, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be in a kitchen after graduation. But after getting this opportunity, I thought “hey this might be pretty cool” and decided to give it a go. After being here for a few weeks, I can now honestly say that I might work in a kitchen after I graduate. I love the environment and the energy; it’s been so much fun doing what I love to do surrounded by people who share the same passion as me. This has been a great experience so far. I have learned so much, not just in terms of skills but also about myself. It will definitely affect my career choices upon graduation!

    What advice would you give to future students going on their externship?

    My advice to anyone going on extern would majorly be don’t rush it. Although it may seem that everyone around you has their extern figured out, don’t rush into anything. Trust me, you don’t need to have it all planned out. It’s awesome if you do, but even if you don’t, just take your time and think it all through. These three months can be a lot if you’re not happy where you are. So take your time, you have plenty of it!

    Why did you choose this location? What factors did you consider when searching for your externship?

    For me location wasn’t the focus. I was focusing on the opportunities, and this seemed amazing! Being able to design a whole menu from scratch, having the chance to dabble in food media, and work for a company that I heard great things about, seemed too good to pass by so I took the opportunity and I’m really glad that I did.

    Aastha Bhaiyya - Plated Dessert