Not the Central Intelligence Agency, not at all, but something much more fun and happy! The Culinary Institute of America, widely recognized as the world’s premier culinary college. This was the day I had eagerly anticipated since the early planning stages.
The Culinary Institute began as the New Haven Restaurant Institute in downtown New Haven, CT as the first and only school of its kind in the United States in 1946. Frances Roth and Katharine Angela created the school to train World War II veterans in the culinary arts. Fifty students were enrolled and the a faculty consisted of a chef, a baker, and a dietitian.
In 1951 the name was changed to the Culinary Institute of America. The school grew and grew to more than 1,000 students. Needing a larger and better facility, the CIA purchased the St. Andrew-on-Hudson Jesuit novitiate in Hyde Park, NY for its new campus and opened the doors in 1972, right on the banks of the Hudson River.
We booked a one-hour tour hosted by a student on Monday morning. Arriving early, we first had a snack and coffee in the Apple Pie Bakery inside Roth Hall.
Speaking of famous CIA alumni/celebrity chefs, there are some names I recognized –Anne Burrell, Cat Cora, Duff Goldman, Michael Symon, Michael Chiarello, Sara Moulton, Todd English, Marcus Samuelsson, and sadly, Anthony Bourdain.
Natalie, our guide, led us through the school of baking and pastry arts. Although she told us about the School of Culinary Arts we really didn’t get to see any of that. I would happily gone on a 2-hour tour to see more.
The tour was fascinating and definitely worth it. We were told not to take photos, but after the tour I managed to sneak one little picture, much to Al’s dismay. I was discreet and no one noticed. 😉
Sculptor, John F. Sendelbach, was asked to create a sculpture for the campus. He chose the Atlantic sturgeon, a migrating fish in the Hudson River region.
Lunch time! After walking around the campus following our tour, we headed over to one of the CIA’s restaurants, the Caterina d’Medici.
Since we were eating at a restaurant on the campus of a premier culinary institute, I think food photos are definitely in order.
What a wonderful day! If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Culinary Institute of America, I have two words for you – DO. IT.