How did you become interested in your major?
In January of 2012, I was enjoying my regular morning routine of watching Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations. On this particular day a special episode aired, and it was an entire hour dedicated to cooking techniques. I sat there completely mesmerized by the likes of Thomas Keller, Jacques Pepin, Scott Conant, and Anthony Bourdain himself. It was during that hour that I realized I wanted to attend culinary school, and so I did. I attended a nine-month culinary school back home, but I still wanted to learn more after I graduated. So, I started at the CIA last June.
Who most influenced your decision to pursue this career?
Honestly, I feel like Anthony Bourdain had a lot to do with it. Reading Bourdain’s books and watching his shows sealed the deal for me. I wanted to live the life he led.
My parents both influenced the way I viewed food. When I was growing up, they took my twin sister and I to as many restaurants as possible whenever we would go out of town.
Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
No. I was incredibly fortunate to get a lot of financial aid and help from my father to attend school here. I am happy that my grades at my previous school allowed me to get more scholarships. I received a CIA Need Based Grant, CIA Housing Grant, and the CIA Presidential Scholarship. I was recently awarded a $1,500 leadership scholarship at Run for Your Knives.
Do you already have a degree from another college or did you previously have a different career?
After I graduated from the culinary school I went to in Mobile, I either wanted to go back to New Orleans or I wanted to attend the CIA. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to learn more from a school, even though I did not have to. That being said, I worked in restaurants until I came here last year.
How has your CIA education helped enhance your previous knowledge?
I feel that my education prior to attending the CIA, both at my past culinary school and in restaurants, has given me something to fall back on. While I came into this school with an open mind, it is nice to have past experiences to draw on when necessary. Because I had already attended school, being here was even more of a big deal to me. It meant that I was serious about this industry.
Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose the CIA because it is, without a doubt, the best school in the world for culinary arts. The caliber of chefs that have walked these halls is staggering.
What do you like best about the CIA?
Without question, I love the chefs I have gotten for instructors. Chef Cerrone and Chef Mayonove have been key to my time here. While I did not have Chef McCue, he has played a part in my time here, too. I have been fortunate enough to learn from some of the best chefs. I have never taken that for granted. The other joy I have from being here is writing and copy editing for La Papillote.
Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I have been writing for La Papillote since I started here in June 2014 and have volunteered my time to the Run for Your Knives for two years!
What is the best lesson you have learned while at the CIA?
The most important thing I have learned at this school, or should I say re-learned, is that only you can create opportunities for yourself. If you want to get everything you can out of this experience, you will.
What are your career goals or plans right after graduation?
I hope to either go back to my externship site, The Leaning Pear, or move back to New Orleans and work at one of Alon Shaya’s restaurants. The only other possibility I am entertaining is possibly going abroad, more specifically Ireland. I will just have to see.
What advice would you give to new students?
The best advice is to come to this campus with an open mind and be ready to learn. It may sound simple, but it is absolutely true.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering attending the CIA?
Do your research first. Read as much as you can about the CIA before coming here; it will be helpful to you. Also, seek out someone who has attended or is attending CIA to ask them about their experiences. There is no such thing as too much information! But, the most important advice I can give you is this: Be passionate about why you are going to attend CIA. Without passion, you will be lost here.
For people that have attended school before this, either at a high school or a college, my advice is to come in with an open mind. Do not assume that you know something because you have that experience. We are lucky enough to learn from a new chef for every class, and every chef gives you a different perspective. If you have people telling you not to go back to school and to just work, listen to your heart. For me, I knew that I would get so much from the CIA, so it was the right choice. You only get as much from CIA as you want to!