Cindy Yuong, CIA New York Associate Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts student.

Student Bio: Cindy Yuong

Associate Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts
Hometown: Seattle, WA
“If culinary is your passion, this is the right place for you.”

How did you become interested in your major?
When I was a child, I didn’t have that many sweets. I would get a slice of birthday cake on occasion, and every once in a while my parents would order cookie dough from the school fundraisers. Spending time in the kitchen making cookies with my mom was my favorite thing to do. I got attached to making cookies and cupcakes with my mom whenever I could and, as I got older, I started making them myself. I soon realized that I loved making and giving away sweets so much that I could go to school for it and do it as a living. Joining the culinary program in high school only further solidified that belief since I got to work with other chefs in the kitchen, serve our food to guests, and see them smile.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue this career?
My mom and my chefs from high school were most influential to me. My mom got me started in loving the art of baking. I had so much fun in the kitchen with her. Then, what really pushed me to go to culinary school was working with chefs in high school. They both had so much skill and experience.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
Yes. At first, my mom was not very supportive of me going to culinary school. She thought working in the kitchen was too much hard work. I knew I still wanted to work with food, so I compromised with saying I would study nutrition for a while. However, after being in the culinary program at my high school and having a representative from the CIA visit for a career talk, I asked my mom if I could apply to the CIA again, on the day that the early-admission registration ended. She said yes this time and I jumped at the occasion—and now, here I am!

Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose the CIA because it is the best culinary school to go to. The two chefs in my high school culinary program are alumni of the CIA and greatly recommended it to me. With all their support, and knowing it would help me more than any other school, I chose to be here.

What do you like best about the CIA?
The chefs. At the CIA, we have the honor of working with so many different chefs who have been in the industry for a long time. I love that we have the opportunity to work with them and try to pick their brains for all their knowledge and secrets in the industry.

What is/are the best lesson(s) you’ve learned while at the CIA or what advice would you give to new students?
Come in ready to hit the ground running. This is a fast-paced school, especially after your first 15 weeks here. Time goes by very quickly, but still try to learn as much as you can. Take the initiative to read the textbook or look things up and take notes on them. Knowledge will only bring you closer to your goals.

Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
Yes, I am the social media editor and a contributing writer for the school newspaper, La Papillote.

What are your career goals or plans right after graduation?
I hope to get experience working at different bakery operations and learn as much as I can from other chefs. While I am at home, I will experiment with modifying the classics, giving them a twist to avoid allergens, or creating Asian-inspired sweets. I would love to one day have my own catering company or bakery featuring all the wonderful exotic ingredients of Asia.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering attending the CIA?
Do research on the CIA and try to learn about it as much as possible. Ask others who have attended the CIA about what it is like and really consider if that is what you want. Visit the CIA campuses and experience the culinary glory for yourself. Work in a kitchen to get first-hand experience on what it will be like. If culinary is your passion, this is the right place for you.

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The Culinary Institute of America
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Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499