Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

Eat Well, Be Well

Author: By Dr. Kathy Merget, Associate Vice President and Dean—Student Affairs

There is an old saying, “you are what you eat,” which many of us may have heard at one time or another. Back then, it conveyed a negative, sometimes even a pejorative, connotation of a lack of willpower or discipline. If someone said this to you, what they may have been conveying is, “that ice cream is going to go straight to your hips” or “if you keep eating all those French fries, you’ll turn into one.”

Today, “you are what you eat” seems to have taken on a whole new meaning—if you eat well, chances are you’ll be well. We know that our food choices can boost energy, lower cholesterol, reduce the chance of heart disease, and play a role in minimizing the obesity epidemic that continues to be pervasive in our nation.

CIA students have an incredible opportunity to directly impact the future—theirs and ours—through their innovation, creativity, and commitment to health and wellness. We believe this opportunity begins with the “three Ms:”

  • Mise en place, a French phrase meaning “everything in its place” that is a cornerstone to student success. In the kitchen, mise en place is about organization, time management, and anticipating everything that is needed to deliver the most desired outcome with a standard of excellence. It is a non-negotiable tenet of our students’ education.
  • Mindfulness, or the ability to pay true attention to the task at hand and be in the moment, is paramount to the successful application of mise en place. It’s challenging to be organized if you’re not in the present.
  • Menus of Change®, an initiative to strategically coordinate and align existing health-, wellness-, and sustainability-related activities across all CIA campuses and advance its 24 Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus throughout the college’s curricula and operations. (See the “24 Principles” graphic at the top.) 

This is the way students can make healthier choices and change the way food is embraced and coveted. These students—your students—are the future leaders of the food industry. What they may not realize just yet is the power they have in making a difference in our lives and the lives of future generations, simply by investing in the principles of mise en place, mindfulness, and Menus of Change. Instead of “you are what you eat” we may hear them say, “you are what you teach.” Smart cookies.


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