Today, The Culinary Institute of America is widely recognized as the world’s premier culinary college, with an industry-wide reputation for excellence and more than 49,000 alumni serving their professions as living testament to the quality of a CIA education.
Such success doesn’t happen overnight, and not without the extraordinary efforts and accomplishments of some very talented and dedicated people. The CIA has an amazing story, and it starts all the way back in 1946, with a daring vision shared by two extraordinary
1946: The Start of Something Big“With your help and the determination to make this school of ours the culinary center of the nation, I think we have the answer I looked for at the start: America—the best meals on earth.” Frances Roth, at the National Restaurant Convention in 1950
Connecticut-based attorney Frances Roth may have never worked in a restaurant, but she was one of the most influential pioneers in culinary education. From her perspective on the industry, she was determined to establish a school that would become “the culinary center of the nation.” With support from co-founder Katharine Angell, who was married to then-Yale University President James Rowland Angell, Mrs. Roth turned her passion into a new vision for educating chefs.
On May 22, 1946, the New Haven Restaurant Institute opened its doors in downtown New Haven, CT as the first and only school of its kind in the United States. Specifically created to train returning World War II veterans in the culinary arts, the Institute enrolled 50 students and employed a faculty consisting of a chef, a baker, and a dietitian.
1946–1970: Growing Up in New Haven
The early years of the Institute are marked by continual growth and accomplishment:
1947: The school changed its name to the Restaurant Institute of Connecticut.
1950: Just four years after its opening, 600 veterans from 38 states had already graduated from the Institute.
“For Americans who dine out regularly, this chef’s training program promises a continuity of good eating—with increasing accent on the ‘American’ tastes.” Look magazine, 1950
1951: The school changes its name one final time, to The Culinary Institute of America, reflecting its national scope and the increasing diversity of the campus population.
1960: In a nod to an ongoing need by food professionals for more training, continuing education is introduced into the curricula.
1965: After nearly 20 years of service to the college, Frances Roth retires, and Jacob Rosenthal is named president. Meanwhile, the CIA’s enrollment increases to 400 students.
1969: Double-class sessions are initiated to accommodate a backlog of applications and an auxiliary campus is leased. But with more than 1,000 students and facilities strained to the maximum, it’s becoming clear the CIA needs a new home...and a new era is about to begin.
The 1970s: New Home, More Quality Education
With its move to the beautiful Hudson Valley in New York, the CIA is well-positioned to advance its reputation for excellence in culinary education and meet national—and international—demand for its services.
1970: After an exhaustive search in which sites as far as Chicago, Atlanta, and Columbia, MD are considered, the CIA purchases the St. Andrew-on-Hudson Jesuit novitiate in Hyde Park, NY for its new campus.
“(St. Andrew-on-Hudson) lends itself to the creation of ideal facilities and an ideal educational environment.” Jacob Rosenthal, CIA president
1971: The Board of Regents of the State of New York grants the CIA a charter to confer an Associate in Occupational Studies degree, making it the first culinary college to be so authorized.
1972: The CIA opens the doors to its beautiful new riverside campus in Hyde Park, NY, with its main building named Roth Hall.
“The CIA is the leading institution in preparing the next wave of great American chefs.” Tim Zagat, co-founder and publisher, Zagat Survey
1973: The college introduces its first on-campus public restaurant, the Epicurean Room and Rabalais Grill, later renamed the Escoffier Restaurant.
“The ultimate in continental dining comfort.” The New York Times review of the Escoffier Room, 1978
1974–1979: As the curriculum expands, the CIA continues to grow right along with it. Three residence halls are built, and an extensive culinary library, career planning center, and learning resources center are established.
“The Harvard of Haute Cuisine.” Life magazine headline for an article about the CIA, May 1979
The 1980s: Leading the Profession
With new leadership, facility expansion, and curriculum innovation, the CIA is at the forefront of preparing students to succeed in one of the hottest industries on the planet.
1980–1981: The decade starts off in masterful fashion for The Culinary Institute of America—Master Chef Ferdinand E. Metz is named the college’s next president, and the CIA becomes the only school authorized to administer the American Culinary Federation’s exam for Master Chefs, the highest professional certification in the country.
1982–1984: Three additional student-staffed restaurants make their debut on the Hyde Park campus in a three-year span: the American Bounty Restaurant, one of the first in the nation devoted to American cuisine; the Caterina de’ Medici Restaurant, specializing in Italian cuisine; and St. Andrew’s Café, originally geared toward nutritional cooking.
“The American Bounty represents more than just another restaurant, especially since its successful implementation again places the Institute at the forefront of culinary education.” Ferdinand E. Metz, CIA president
“Whatever furthers the feeling of what we have, what we grew up with, and what we hope to have, is very precious, very dear to my heart.” James Beard, speaking about the American Bounty Restaurant at its 1982 opening
1984: The CIA’s continuing education center (later named the J. Willard Marriott Education Center) opens, on-campus kitchens are upgraded, and an experimental kitchen and food laboratory are constructed to study and teach the science of cooking.
1988: Continuing to blaze trails in research and education, the CIA builds the General Foods Nutrition Center to promote nutritional cooking. The center becomes the new home of St. Andrew’s Café.
The 1990s: New Standards of Excellence
New bachelor’s degree programs and a West Coast presence highlight one of the most significant periods in the college’s history.
1990: Responding to a growing industry need for highly qualified, professionally trained baking and pastry chefs, the college opens its new baking and pastry facility. Two years later, the center is dedicated as the Shunsuke Takaki School of Baking and Pastry to honor the founder of Japan’s Takaki Bakery and Andersen Group.
1993: The CIA completes its transformation into a complete college of higher education when the New York State Board of Regents approves the Institute to offer two Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) degrees, in either culinary arts management or baking and pastry arts management. Later that same year, in keeping with the spirit of education growth, the CIA opens the Conrad N. Hilton Library, second only to the Library of Congress in its culinary collection.
“In practically every successful restaurant or hotel in this country I’ve been in, more often than not I’ve encountered a Culinary Institute of America graduate in a leadership position.” Julia Child, teacher, author, culinary pacesetter
“We feel the Institute is the best in its field and that this library and learning resource center can serve generations of its students. We chose the Institute because it graduates individuals of high character who are able to assume management roles.” Conrad N. Hilton III, Hilton Foundation program officer
1995: For the first time ever, the CIA introduces an additional location, launching The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the heart of California’s Napa Valley. First offering continuing education programs for foodservice professionals, the campus grows to include associate degree programs and food enthusiast classes. The campus also features the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant, with special focus on food and wine pairing.
“Having had a lifelong love of cooking and food, I have a great admiration for The Culinary Institute of America and its commitment to young people who are seeking a career in food preparation.” Chuck Williams, founder and vice chairman of the board, Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
1998: The Hyde Park campus feels even more like, well, a campus when the Student Recreation Center is unveiled to benefit student wellness. Students now have access to basketball, tennis, and racquetball courts; a weight room; an indoor pool and track; a game room and lounge; a variety of fitness and athletic programs; and a café and pub.
“Almost every profession has an outstanding training ground. The military has West Point, music has Juilliard, and culinary arts has the Institute.” Craig Claiborne, celebrated author and food critic for The New York Times
At Greystone, the CIA holds the first Worlds of Flavor® Conference & Festival, its flagship conference that each year transforms the Napa Valley campus into a crossroads of world food and culture. The annual event cements the CIA’s reputation as a culinary “think tank” supporting and driving innovation in the foodservice
The 2000s: Still the One
The world’s premier culinary college leads the foodservice world into the new millennium, continuing to garner praise and accomplish great things in culinary education, research, and industry service.
“The first time I visited, I knew I had finally found a school that teaches the traditions of the world’s cuisines. It’s the best culinary school in the world.” Paul Bocuse, world-renowned French chef
2000: At the Hyde Park campus, the Apple Pie Bakery Café opens to enhance the baking and pastry curriculum. People immediately flock to “the café” to enjoy the sumptuous baked goods and café cuisine available for takeout or to enjoy in the restaurant’s sophisticated yet casual atmosphere.
2001: As the curriculum expands its focus on world flavors, the CIA opens the Colavita Center for Italian Food and Wine in Hyde Park. Devoted to the study of the culinary traditions of Italy, the Colavita Center includes the new home of the college’s Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici, educating students in the Italian regional cuisines.
Dr. Tim Ryan becomes president of the CIA, the first alumnus and first faculty member to hold the top position at the college. Along with achieving the coveted Certified Master Chef credential, President Ryan earned his doctorate degree in education from The University of Pennsylvania and bachelor’s and Master of Business
Administration (MBA) degrees from the University of New Haven.
“This is the best place in the world. A school like this is something we would like to have in France.” Roger Vergé, legendary French chef and restaurateur
2002: The CIA’s amazing pace of innovations and improvements continues. In Hyde Park, the newly named and renovated Farquharson Hall in Roth Hall provides an outstanding venue for graduations, student dining, banquets, and other special events.
2004: To accommodate the growing numbers of students and their preference for campus life, Adirondack-style lodges are added on the north end of the Hyde Park campus.
The CIA also launches its intercollegiate athletic program when the soccer and basketball teams join the Hudson Valley Men’s Athletic Conference. The current CIA Steels participate in five sports—the original two plus cross-country, tennis, and volleyball—as members of both the HVMAC and the Hudson Valley Women’s Athletic
2005: A new Hyde Park focal point is created when Anton Plaza is completed adjacent to Roth Hall, providing a beautiful area for special events, student activities, and visitor parking. At Greystone, the Ventura Center for Menu Research and Development opens to advance menu-development research and education for the foodservice industry.
2006: The Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and the CIA announce a collaborative degree program for students seeking a preeminent education in hospitality management and the culinary arts. Students who complete this intensive program earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Hotel Administration from Cornell and an Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS) degree in Culinary Arts from the CIA. The collaborative degree program is part of a broader alliance the two colleges formed in 2003.
“This is exactly the kind of innovative educational offering that we envisioned upon forming this alliance.” Leo Renaghan, associate dean for academic affairs, Cornell University
In the fall of ’06, the college begins offering its proven associate degree program in culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, giving students the opportunity to earn this valuable industry credential on both coasts.
Also in 2006, the pilot program for the Center for Foods of the Americas opens in San Antonio's historic Pearl Brewery, paving the way for the college's Texas campus.
2008: The college opens its third campus, The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio. The new branch campus gives the college a platform to offer special expertise in Latin American cuisines and to serve Latino foodservice professionals, including a certificate program in culinary arts and cuisine programs for foodservice industry professionals and food enthusiasts.
“The CIA will show the rest of the world the contributions that Latin food can make. It’s wonderful to have a place that respects this cuisine and helps it become woven into the best restaurants in the country.” Rick Bayless, prominent chef-restaurateur, cookbook author, and television personality
2009: The Culinary Institute of America launches its AOS degree program in baking and pastry arts at the CIA at Greystone, in the heart of California’s Napa Valley. The program offers baking and pastry students the same hands-on learning, in-depth knowledge, and proven curriculum found at the college’s flagship campus in Hyde Park, NY.
2010: The college introduces its first international campus when The Culinary Institute of America, Singapore opens. Today, thanks to the CIA’s historic partnership with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), students in Asia have the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) degree in culinary arts management in the college’s spectacular 30,000-square-foot facility on the campus of Temasek Polytechnic.
2012: The CIA San Antonio opens the doors to Nao, its on-campus restaurant that celebrates the authentic cuisines, cultures, and bounty of Latin America.
In addition, the CIA launches a groundbreaking bachelor’s degree program in culinary science in 2012. The elite program applies science-based understanding of the culinary arts to prepare students for careers in research and development, large-scale foodservice, or high-end dining. The college also introduces study concentrations that allow students in the bachelor’s degree management programs to target their education experience to specific areas of the food world such as Farm-to-Table Cooking, Advanced Wines and Beverages, and Latin Cuisines. A highlight of the concentrations is a 15-week semester at either the CIA’s California or Texas campus.
“A traditional kitchen is like a pirate ship. We like our flames, we like our noise, we have our scars. We’d like to create a kitchen that’s more like a luxury yacht.” Jonathan Zearfoss, professor of culinary science, The Culinary Institute of America
2013: The Culinary Institute of America opens The Bocuse Restaurant, which gives students the chance to create and serve new interpretations of classic French cuisine in a stunning open kitchen and sleek modern dining room. Students use sous-vide techniques, prepare liquid nitrogen ice cream table side, and learn a variety of exciting and innovative new skills.
2014: The Marriott Pavilion opens its doors on the New York campus. With its 800-seat Ecolab Auditorium and state-of-the-art conference facilities, the Pavilion will bring more professionals and visitors to campus than ever before, host world-renowned conferences, and provide a wide variety of new educational experiences for students.
The CIA also introduced a new bachelor’s degree major in applied food studies, which uniquely prepares graduates to influence the future of food. Students in this program gain expertise in food systems, policy, and local and global food issues as they prepare for careers in advocacy and policy-making organizations, health agencies, restaurant kitchens, and food industry councils.
2015: The CIA cracks open The Egg, its spectacular new student dining venue housed in the expanded Student Commons on the college's New York campus.
2016: An exciting evolution of the CIA bachelor’s degree program comes to fruition, as the college confers its first Bachelor of Business Administration degrees to students majoring in food business management. The internationally recognized BBA gives CIA graduates an even greater advantage as they pursue advanced degrees and/or career opportunities.
2017: The college launches its new bachelor’s degree major in hospitality management, opening doors for students to become leaders in this fast-growing segment of the food business. They learn the business of managing elite hotels, restaurants, resorts, and other top hospitality sites, and study event planning, tourism, and beverage production services.
A vision for the future: Still the world’s premier culinary college...and getting better all the time.
“We have a tremendous legacy, a deep reservoir of faculty and staff talent, unsurpassed facilities, and an alumni network of leaders and future leaders. (Our) mission is to take a great institution and make it even better. In doing so, we will move in some new and quite exciting directions.” Dr. Tim Ryan, president, The
Culinary Institute of America
“The CIA today really brings us the future. The faculty turns out great young people who really understand what it takes to become a professional, to become somebody who wants to achieve something.” Wolfgang Puck, world-renowned chef, restaurateur, and philanthropist
“The Culinary Institute of America has a rich and long tradition of offering the highest quality culinary education possible. I foresee the school continuing to shape many of our new leaders of the food industry well into the future.” Thomas Keller, chef and owner, The French Laundry, Bouchon, and Bouchon Bakery