Pros: Chef Instructors; Full Equipt Kitchens; Establishing Networks; Hudson Valley
Cons: Large class sizes; Price Tag
A little bit about me:
I grew up in the Hudson Valley about 30 min. away from the CIA. I knew I wanted to go to culinary school since I was in 10th grade and started cooking for my family avidly. I almost chose to go to Johnson an Wales because I wanted the college experience, far away from my parents. Fortunately, my neighbor is a Master Chef that worked at the CIA and swayed both myself and parents that this would be the best place to go for a culinary education. I graduated from the CIA with a BPS degree in Culinary Arts Management in 2007. The CIA absolutely prepared me for my career in the food industry.
First, let me address the pros:
The chef instructors are experienced professionals that genuinely want the students to succeed. They are there to help guide you through each class and are very engaged. I still keep in touch with my favorite instructors, and use them as a resource.
The facilities at the CIA are always improving. The kitchens utilize high end equipment, and are typically clean, organized and well stocked. It may actually be shocking, depending where a graduate works, to see the other end of whats out there.
Like most college experiences, students develop relationships with each other. But, unlike other colleges I feel the CIA community supports not only their comrades, but all alumni. I still keep in touch with many of my fellow graduates and love discussing current work challenges and successes with them.
Like I said, I am from the Hudson Valley and love the area. I am currently living in New Orleans and am missing the bounty of New York. There are so many opportunities available to explore every avenue of a culinary career in a very close proximity to the CIA.
And now the ever looming cons:
I started school with a lot of recent high school grads in 2003. At the time, we were the largest incoming class. Being in a class of 25 people and working with a partner does not lend itself to "real" world kitchen environment. Sense of urgency in this environment is lacking. Chef instructors are challenged to engage with all students. Ultimately, its up to the individual to engage the instructor and get as much out of the class as possible.
The CIA is expensive. It may or may not be worth it to many individuals. I feel as though I am prepared for this career, but so are others that did not pay for it. Competing in the culinary world is challenging, having the education may give you an edge, but it may not. Having the CIA network helps. I never thought to equate what my potential earnings and the cost of my education and I think that is something many need to realize. You will not start out making much money and truthfully many of my fellow grads are not making more than $60,000/year currently. New applicants need to make an informed decision and understand the burden they are taking on, in the form of debt, if they are taking out loans to pay for this education.