Wednesday, July 15, 2015


The Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, New York ( welcomes visitors to tour its campus, and dine in its restaurants!  Visiting this place has been on my "TO DO" list for decades, since I first heard about it, back in the 1970's.   One reason is that in my career as a Registered Dietitian, the trade publications that I received, often wrote about the CIA, as well as the students and chefs that attended school there.  So naturally, I was absolutely DELIGHTED to get the opportunity to tour the campus, when I was taking a Road Scholar ( ) program in the Hudson River Valley of New York State.    Since a trip to the CIA was not included in the Road Scholar itinerary, I wanted to make sure I knew how to get to the campus in my own vehicle.  Therefore, in advance of my pre-scheduled CIA tour, I had done a "trial run" from my Road Scholar program (headquartered in Newburgh, New York)  to the campus at Hyde Park, which is located up the Hudson River about an hour's drive north.  It was obvious as soon as I drove on the campus, that the students who attend college here, do not dress in the same manner as college students on most other campuses. In the photo above, notice the matching white chef's jackets, matching black checked pants, and black close-toed shoes.  Projecting a professional image at all times is one of the hallmarks of students and graduates at the CIA.
The beautiful Italianate building in this photo contains classrooms, sensory testing rooms, as well as an elegant Italian restaurant.  In addition

 to educating traditionally enrolled students, the CIA offers continuing education for Food Service Professionals, as well as non-professionals.  You can go to their website for more detailed information about the dozens of courses offered throughout the year, and on their various campuses in other parts of the world.
At the Apple Pie Bakery in Hyde Park, you can watch the various baked items being prepared, under the close supervision of the chef instructor.

The main building, called Roth Hall, also has culinary teaching theaters, equipped with overhead cameras, that can be used if the students need a close up look at what is being prepared on the stove top.

Most folks know that the name of Conrad Hilton is legendary in the hospitality industry, so it is not surprising that the college library building bears his name.  It has exhibits inside which related to the food service industry.  When I went inside the library,
I found it affirming that I was not the only person in the world who collected and framed menus!  The Conrad N. Hilton Library has a collection of menus as well!  The ones they had on display were from meals served on trains to USA Presidents!
Since my parents said I used to go around saying "I LIKE IKE!", when I was a toddler, I felt compelled to photograph the menu used by President Eisenhower when touring Missouri on the Union Pacific Railroad.  For those too young to remember, "I LIKE IKE" was the campaign slogan when Eisenhower was running for President of the United States.  Besides the menu shown in this photograph, there were numerous other menus related to presidents-dining-on-trains in their exhibit.

A feature I have never seen in a library before, was a special area where student chefs could practice their knife skills!

There is also an herb garden on the campus, so the chefs can have the freshest flavors available for the recipes they create.
Likewise, a vegetable garden on site grows an extensive variety of plants that thrive in the Hudson Valley Region.

I was very fortunate to have a recent graduate of the CIA as my tour guide! 

A representative of the communications department, along with my chef tour guide, are shown in this photo on our way to the newest addition to the CIA campus.  This
trail leads down to a newly-opened facility for students, called "The Egg":
When I asked why the name "The Egg" was chosen for the facility, they told me that, just as an egg is extremely versatile in all the ways it can be used, so "The Egg" building will be versatile in its use by the students and faculty.

It is appropriate that this stainless steel sculpture sits near the entrance to "The Egg", because so many surfaces in professional kitchens are covered with stainless steel.  Stopping to take a photo of our reflection in the egg, reminded me of the shiny "bean" sculpture, in Chicago, that is famous for its reflective images ( see my blog posts dated September 28, 2014 and April 12, 2013 for more info and photos on the Chicago "bean" sculpture). 
In addition to this sparkling egg sculpture, there is a shiny
fish sculpture, made of knives, forks, and spoons!  It is called Diamondsides, and is a reminder of the history of commercial  sturgeon fishing, that occurred in this part of the Hudson River.

The building in the photo above is called Roth Hall, and the structure was originally called St. Andrew of Hudson Jesuit novitiate.  That history explains the initials in the floor mosaic as you enter Roth Hall:
initials AMDG stand for the Latin motto of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), a religious order of the Catholic Church.  The Latin phrase Ad majorem Dei gloriam means "For the greater glory of God."  It is a summary of the idea that any work that is not evil, even one that would normally be considered inconsequential to the spiritual life, can be spiritually meritorious, if it is performed to give glory to God. 
The letters stand for the phrase "To God Be The Glory".  Likewise, that is my prayer for this blog---even though it is inconsequential to the world in general, it is written to give glory to God!   When I asked the CIA Communications Manager what one thing she would like for readers of my blog to know, she said it was this:  PLEASE COME VISIT THE CIA!!!  You can come for a tour, dine in the restaurants, enroll as a traditional student, come for professional continuing education, or come as a non-professional to explore your "inner chef"!  These options are available at three different locations in the USA:  I have had the opportunity to visit the CIA campus in St. Helena, California, and even take a cooking class there!  There is also a campus in San Antonio, Texas.  Although I have toured that building, it was BEFORE the CIA had converted the space from the Pearl beer brewery, to a culinary school.  There is also now a branch of the CIA in Singapore!  To start planning your visit, click on or phone 1-800-CULINARY.   A visit to the Culinary Institute of America will give you "MILES OF SMILES"!  Tricia