Riddhi Venkateshwaran, culinary arts student at The Culinary Institute of America

Spotlight On: Riddhi Venkateshwaran '16Bachelor's Degree in Culinary Arts Management

Hometown: Mumbai, India
"My chef could see that the kitchen was where my heart was and he told me, "If you want to be a chef someday, go to the CIA" and that was it."

How did you become interested in your major?
Nothing inspires me like being in a kitchen; the colors, textures, flavors and sounds I encounter enchant me constantly. I truly believe the kitchen is a place where one can learn not only about food but about life. My culinary voyage so far has not only made me stronger but also more humble. Every day brings new possibilities and innumerable opportunities to learn and grow. It is my hunger for knowledge and deep love for vibrant colors that keeps me interested day after day.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue this career?
After my granny—my best friend and the one who first introduced me to the magic of the kitchen—passed away, I began to cook for her every day. I would sit by her photograph and talk to her like she was really right there and share my plate with her. I felt that sharing food and the act of cooking kept us connected on a deeper level. Initially I cooked each day to stay connected to my best friend. The event became increasingly joyous and fulfilling, and eventually became a large part of my life. My granny not only drew me to the kitchen but she is also the reason I took my passion to the next level and still chase my dreams.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
Moving to New York all the way from India was not an easy task. I was thrilled and intensely excited for the opportunity. It was a dream come true. But I was still slightly apprehensive and scared for the big change to come. It was leaping into the void, completely unknown territory. I wasn't sure what to expect, but within a minute of setting foot on campus, I knew I was home.

Why did you choose the CIA?
When I was 17 I got my first job in a kitchen. I was excited and eager to learn but not entirely sure how to take my passion to another level. I wanted to find a group of people who all shared a passion, talented individuals who could teach and inspire me. My chef could see that the kitchen was where my heart was and he told me, "If you want to be a chef someday, go to the CIA" and that was it. From that moment on, the CIA became the goal because I had faith in my chef and he promised me it would take me where I needed to be. The CIA really is the best thing that ever happened to me.

What do you like best about the CIA?
I wake up every day excited for class, and still iron my chef coat every morning with a smile from ear to ear. When your classroom is a kitchen, life really does seem perfect. I have met some of the most inspiring and passionate individuals through my time at this school. We really are lucky to have so many passionate professionals under one roof.

What are your career goals or plans right after graduation?
I have always believed that food truly heals the body, mind, and spirit. It is my dream to help people to use food to heal their bodies through practices of conscious eating, mindfulness, and the art of eating to balance your chakras. “Peace, Love, and Light” for all.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering attending the CIA?
If your passion lies in the kitchen and you are willing to chase your dreams despite the occasional bumps in the road, this is the place for you. The chefs are dedicated and inspiring. They will teach you more than you think possible about the kitchen and about life. For anyone with a deep love for the industry, this is home.

The Culinary Institute of America

1946 Campus Drive
Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499

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