Zachary Bryant, baking and pastry arts student at The Culinary Institute of America

Spotlight On: Zachary Bryant '16Associate Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts

Hometown: Oxford, PA
"Every single chef I've met has changed my life for the better. Each provided extensive and wise knowledge of the kitchen and life in general. I'll never forget what my chefs have taught me."

How did you become interested in your major?
My family isn't your ordinary family. I know that sounds like the start of some cheesy sitcom, but they have always been involved in the food/hospitality industry. All throughout my life, I've always been surrounded by home cooking. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were the highlights/focuses of the day. Food just came naturally to me! My father and brother just so happened to have graduated from the CIA back in 1981 and 2014! So I guess you could say their backgrounds eventually piqued my interest. I love the industry.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue this career?
I'd definitely say my older brother, Roy, was my biggest influence to pursue a job in the food industry. I have always looked up to Roy, especially when he started at the CIA. He developed amazing skills, lost a lot of weight, and played in tennis tournaments. It sounded like a dream to me. Of course, being the strange middle child while also having a love for sweets, I decided to study baking and pastry!

Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
Yes, nothing major, but both deciding what career to choose and being able to afford the education was a challenge. I was in the middle of deciding between engineering and physical therapy majors when baking and pastry came out of nowhere. Ironic when it's basically been surrounding me my whole life. Even just the thought of the career ignited a spark in me and put a smile on my face.

Why did you choose the CIA?
You could say there was family bias, but I chose it myself. It stood out to me, and the name spoke for itself. Seeing my brother graduate was inspirational and amazing. I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

What do you like best about the CIA?
The chefs. Never have I ever met so many amazing, talented, and passionate individuals in my life. Every single chef I've met has changed my life for the better. Each provided extensive and wise knowledge of the kitchen and life in general. I'll never forget what my chefs have taught me.

What is/are the best lesson(s) you've learned while at the CIA or what advice would you give to new students?
Be humble. Listen. Take notes. Get involved. Make connections. Stay positive. Most important of all, be yourself. When you stay true to yourself, you will be happy!

Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
Yes, I'm an Resident Assistant here on campus, and I play on the CIA tennis team too! I love to help with events and even plan my own. Helping people is an awesome feeling. Playing on the tennis team is extremely fun. CIA coaches are fantastic and I love playing.

What are your career goals or plans right after graduation?
I hope to find a job in Philadelphia after I graduate. I would love to improve my skills in the city, well-known for its food. In the long run, I would love to do showpieces and work with chocolate for big businesses, private companies, events, and more. I have a designing background that mixes in well with this plan, so it works out!

What advice would you give to someone who is considering attending the CIA?
Work in a kitchen—actually working with the food—for a couple of months. Get a feel for the industry. Be humble with your craft. It's tough, but it's beautiful. The things you can create, people you can bring together, and smiles that proceed create a rewarding feeling like no other.

The Culinary Institute of America

1946 Campus Drive
Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499

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