Early Sunday morning, a wildfire (codenamed Glass) started burning near St. Helena. The California leadership team and senior leaders in Hyde Park including President Ryan monitored conditions throughout the day and prepared for a possible evacuation of campus. Late Sunday night, we evacuated 119 students from the residence halls. Most students were able to connect with family or friends for overnight accommodations; 18 students were provided lodging arranged by the CIA through the county. The California team was in continuous contact with CIA leadership throughout, and due to their efforts, the evacuation went smoothly with all students safe and accounted for. Students remained calm and in good spirits despite the situation. They have been real troopers.

While the fire came too close for comfort, Greystone and our residence halls on campus and on Pratt Avenue were untouched.

Currently the Greystone campus is without power as damage is assessed and fires continue to be active in the area. All members of the campus community have been asked to work remotely. We are using The CIA at Copia as a base camp for our operations, and many students will be spending time there today. We will continue to update students, faculty, and staff, by e-mail as needed. Parents, please urge your student to share these notifications, so you have the latest information.

Viraj Borkar, CIA culinary arts alumni, is manager at the Knightsbridge Restaurant Group.

Alumni Bio: Viraj Borkar '10

Culinary Arts
Founder, President, and Chef, Project Sara
"The CIA really helped me get exposure to amazing kitchens and gain experience for my résumé."

Passion, Persistence, and Patience

When Viraj Borkar ’10 was a young boy growing up in Pune, India, the thought of a future in the food industry was simply unfathomable. Suffering from stomach issues that required strict dietary restrictions, food would inevitably put Viraj on a roller coaster of emotions. Thankfully, his mother’s creativity in the kitchen enabled him to enjoy wonderful flavors while he slowly healed to a full recovery. “My family’s enjoyment of food inspired me to dive headlong into the culinary world the first chance I got,” say Viraj, founder, president, and chef of Project Sara in New York City.

But first, Viraj earned CIA food enthusiast classes and culinary boot camps his bachelor’s degree in hospitality from the prestigious Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology, and Applied Nutrition in Mumbai. Then it was on to Hyde Park. “My admission reps made the application process easy to understand,” Viraj says. “The whole campus life and the atmosphere itself was the best experience.” He took advantage of every opportunity that came his way. Viraj became a chef’s assistant in the Continuing Education department for CIA food enthusiast classes and culinary boot camps; was the assistant to the winning team of James Kent and Tom Allen at the Bocuse d’Or USA finals in 2010; and was awarded the Nucci Scholarship for Culinary Innovation by the Produce Marketing Association Education Foundation.

Viraj would stage on weekends while juggling his course work. “I was able to do stages at Eleven Madison Park and Jean-Georges, and I was very fortunate to complete my internship at Tabla under Chef Floyd Cardoz,” Viraj explains. “Overall, the CIA really helped me get exposure to amazing kitchens and gain experience for my résumé. I was also able to build contacts.”

Looking back Viraj is grateful for his CIA education and experience. “One of the main things about the CIA is certainly the culinary focus but the school offers so much more in the varied curriculum so you graduate with a well rounded education,” says Viraj. “If you have a chance to be a student at the CIA, be calm, know your passion, take in everything, grow your endurance and patience, and get involved. Every day you have an opportunity to make new connections. With passion, persistence, and patience you too can shape your dreams into reality.”

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