• CIA Externship Spotlight: Diego Aguilar ’25 on Externship at SingleThread Farm Restaurant and Inn

  • CIA Externship Spotlight: Diego Aguilar ’25 on Externship at SingleThread Farm Restaurant and Inn

    A Day in the Life of a Pastry Commis at a Fine Dining Establishment

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

    Every CIA student will get the opportunity to experience the wonders and excitement of a paid internship (or “externship,” as we like to call it in this industry)! One student, Diego Aguilar ’25, is currently in his third semester at CIA and on externship at SingleThread Farm Restaurant and Inn in Healdsburg, CA.

    Originally from Raleigh, NC, Diego is across the country in California working at the fine dining SingleThread. His interest in the food industry all began with being a food runner at the place his dad was working. Here he met Brian Jenzer, the chef who watched over him and eventually led to the decision to come to CIA’s New York campus. Working in the food industry holds a sentimental feeling with Diego as it feels like an inheritance passed down from his father.

    Explain your responsibilities and how long a typical shift is.

    I will go in around 1–2 p.m. When I first go into work, I check the prep list and see what my responsibilities are for the day before service. After two hours of prep the restaurant goes into a complete breakdown with every department having its own cleaning tasks. After this, we have a family meal, a group meal that the restaurant serves its staff outside of peak business hours. Sometimes I will have to prepare a dessert for this for the whole restaurant to eat. After the family meal, it’s full steam ahead to getting into service. I work the line for the rest of my shift, having all my mise en place (MEP) ready and even being able to help on the culinary side of things with stations nearby. After service we clean up once again and I will discuss the day with the pastry chefs, talking about what I did good, bad, and how I can improve for the next day.

    What three words best describe your externship and why?

    Challenging, exciting, and passionate.

    My externship has already challenged me in many ways mentally, physically, creatively, and it’s exciting coming in everyday to see the passion every single person in that restaurant has for each individual plate and the atmosphere it puts out.

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

    My externship is helping me in my career by showing me the highest level this industry has. It shows me how invested in your work you need to be when you are the best. Every single person at SingleThread cares so much about every single detail that it inspires me to want to work in an environment where everyone cares and everyone has a common goal, giving someone a meal out of love and introducing them to new and exciting flavors.

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

    My advice for future students would be to go somewhere that is challenging and somewhere that might be out of your comfort zone. You are only here for a short time and if you end up not liking it, you then know that you don’t like it. On the other hand, if you do end up liking it, you not only made yourself better but know what direction you want to go after CIA.

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

    I chose SingleThread for their ethos and their mission behind the restaurant which is to change the idea behind fine dining and open their doors to their guests with open arms. Another big ideal behind SingleThread is making yourself better every single day. Being the new guy has been hard with making mistakes and doubting myself, but they have been patient with me. Learning from those mistakes has already made me a better cook and eventually one day will help me when I become a chef. I considered mainly their ethos when I chose SingleThread and their access to the freshest ingredients from their own farm which is really an amazing opportunity to be able to see the talented chefs here utilize these ingredients with classic Japanese techniques and make something very special for every guest who dines here.