Alex Talbot, CIA Baking and Pastry Student

Alex Talbot is a baking and pastry arts associate degree student at The Culinary Institute of America.

Alex Talbot is a baking and pastry arts associate degree student at The Culinary Institute of America.

Major: Associate Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts
Campus: Hyde Park, NY
Hometown: Edmond, OK

How did you become interested in food?
When I was younger, I always loved science and being able to express myself artistically. I always checked books out of the library and spent lunchtime looking at new things on the internet. Eventually, I learned about molecular gastronomy and José Andrés. It absolutely fascinated me. Molecular gastronomy took food and transformed it through science into something new. I started looking into the food industry more and more. Then when I was 15 I talked to a chef in downtown Oklahoma City. She let me stage for a weekend in her kitchen and I fell in love with the industry. I knew that working in a kitchen was something I needed to do for the rest of my life.

Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose the CIA because it was the best fit for me. The school has an amazing reputation and an amazing network. I knew that I could learn from the best of the industry while having the opportunity to find employment after I graduated. When I came up to visit the New York campus, I fell in love with the atmosphere and the culture. The chefs and the faculty were absolutely amazing and I knew it was the right place for me.

What do you like best about the CIA?
I love the chefs and professors here at the CIA. They know so much and are really willing to talk with the students to teach us as much as possible. The chefs and professors love what they do and their passion really comes across.

Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I’m a writer for the school paper La Papillote and I am currently helping to design the website so the paper can go digital. It really lets me explore topics surrounding the food and beverage industry that interest me and to tell other people about issues that matter.

What is your favorite dish to make? Why?
My favorite dish to make is rigatoni buttera. It was the first entrée I tasted at my first job and it was the first entrée I ever learned to cook on the line in a professional kitchen. While baking & pastry is my passion, that dish will always hold a special place in my heart.

How has your CIA education prepared you for the business side of food?
The CIA’s curriculum includes classes like culinary math and purchasing. The skill and knowledge of food is crucial in the kitchen and the CIA backs it up with showing the financial cost behind a recipe and how to manage inventory. At the end of the day, a restaurant is a business and businesses need capital to function. By teaching the students the financial side of a kitchen, they really give us the tools to be able to express ourselves in a sustainable way.

What is/are the best lesson(s) you’ve learned while at the CIA?
One of the best lessons I’ve learned at the CIA is how to productively manage my stress. I’ve turned to painting watercolors and writing for La Papillote to help unwind at the end of the day. The school really works with its students to help them manage their stress and find productive ways of dealing with it.

What are your career goals and how will your CIA education help you get there?
My biggest goal is to become a leader and have a lasting impact on the industry. The CIA is the first big step in that direction. With the education provided, the school is giving me a strong base to build upon once I enter into the industry.

What advice would you give to a new student or someone who is considering attending the CIA?
I would tell anyone thinking about coming to the CIA to be open and flexible. Everyone who comes here has a passion and is very skilled in what they’ve done. If you’re open and flexible, you end up learning a lot more and more doors end up opening for you. The school also moves at a lightning pace the minute you move in. Being flexible helps to be able to adapt to the change and different opportunities available.