How did you become interested in your major?
I became interested in cooking at a very young age. Growing up in an Italian family, I always had food as the focal point of my childhood. I would go to my grandmother's, stand next to her, and act like I was cooking. When I was at home I would cook with my mother, who cooked the same recipes as my grandmother. Once in high school, I joined a vocational program where I would go to school for half a day then go to a culinary arts program. There I learned that I had a true passion for culinary arts, so I tried to get as much hands-on experience as possible working in multiple different restaurants as soon as I could. Honestly, if I did not want to cook, I don’t know what I would have done. This is all I've ever had a passion for.
Who most influenced your decision to pursue this career?
My grandmother was my ultimate influence to pursue this career. She passed away when I was in fourth grade, so I did not have that direct line anymore to her recipes—except for my mother, who carried on the recipes from my grandmother. I felt I had to make her proud and pursue something that she always loved, which was cooking and entertaining.
Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
While I did not have to overcome any physical challenges coming to the CIA, I did have to overcome mental challenges. These mental challenges where from the people around me. My parents supported throughout my whole time getting ready to go to the CIA. At the same time, I had family and friends asking why I would spend all this money on a school just to learn how to cook. When I told them that I wanted the best name on my résumé, they did not understand. They thought that a degree or certificate from any other school would be fine. I would tell everyone that no matter the amount of debt I’d have after graduation, I knew it would be worth it in the end. Now that I’m near the end of my time as a bachelor’s student, I know I made the right choice—and I have a feeling that those people who tried to turn me away from this school are regretting what they said after they've seen everything I've experienced here. I’m not just going to college to cook, but to pursue new passions.
Why did you choose the CIA?
I have always wanted to come to the CIA, probably since I was in early middle school. While looking at schools I applied to a few others with culinary arts programs, including Johnson & Wales, who was very persistent—but I denied them. Even though the CIA was my first choice, I ultimately decided to come to the CIA because of my mentor. Chef Dale Miller was a huge influence on me to come here as well as a big help in my decision. He talked about how it does not matter how much money the school cost; it will all be worth it in the end. I feel that he was right this whole time.
What do you like best about the CIA?
What I like best about the CIA is the amount of variation that the school has. The classes are so fast-paced that you are always changing up your daily routine. It never gets boring. Paired with the variation, the amount of hours in the kitchen was always an attractive selling point to me as well. Looking at other schools, there was nowhere else that offered as many kitchen hours as we do. The CIA has opened many paths for me and other students as well. We are no longer going to school to cook and bake, but we are going to college to learn business, specialized cuisines, entrepreneurship, and—for me—advanced wines, beverages, and hospitality.
What is/are the best lesson(s) you've learned while at the CIA or what advice would you give to new students?
Be humble, have an open mind, and have respect. Do not go around like you are better than someone else. We all start at square one. Have confidence and do not be afraid to take chances and put yourself out there for everyone to know.
Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I belong to Eta Sigma Delta, which is the bachelor’s honor society where we do volunteer work.
What are your career goals or plans right after graduation?
After graduation I plan on going to graduate school. After grad school I want to work in the beverage industry, as something like the beverage director of a restaurant.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering attending the CIA?
There are many schools to consider. Personally I believe the CIA is the best choice. I do not regret my decision to come here. It’s an amazing learning experience, both for the knowledge you gain and for your personal self.