MS, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, RI; BA, Sichuan University, Sichuan, People’s Republic of China; AOS, Sichuan Culinary Institute, Sichuan.
Certified Chef-Instructor, Sichuan Culinary Institute. Executive Sous Chef, Xingsheng Restaurant, Peking, People’s Republic of China.
Winner, Japanese Ingredient Culinary Challenge, International Restaurant and Foodservice Show, NYC, 2011. Marc Sarrazin Cup (CIA team), Salon of Culinary Arts, NYC, 1997, 1996. CIA Faculty Member of the Year, 1996.
Shirley Cheng has been creating excellence in the kitchens of the CIA for 18 years. While much has changed in her nearly two decades at the college, many of the most important ingredients have stayed the same. “We continue to provide high-quality education,” she says. “The reputation remains and the great chefs are still here. If anything, the school is operating on an even higher level. For example, before it was a seven-day Asian class; now it’s 14 days. Before, we only covered a couple of countries in the course; now it’s six. I’m happy to see how students love Asian cuisine. It’s a different culture for them, and they get excited. I never get tired of teaching it.”
And she teaches it in great depth. It’s important for Chef Cheng to make sure students not only learn to cook, but understand the cuisine. “Cooking is not just skill, it’s an art, a culture,” she explains. “It’s using all your senses—training your tongue to taste the food and your nose to smell it, using your eyes for the presentation, tuning in to the sounds of cooking. The CIA is about professional cooking; all of its levels are important. Otherwise, we’d just purée everything and swallow it like a pill.”
A past CIA Faculty Member of the Year, Chef Cheng continues to infuse her students with a commitment to excellence that has carried over to their careers. “Watching students learn it, love it, cook it makes you feel very good,” she says. “Many students come back and tell me how much they use the knowledge they gained at the CIA in their restaurants. That’s your reward as a teacher.” And that’s how you change lives in very positive ways, something which the CIA has continued to excel at through the years.