Charolette Browder, CIA Culinary Science Student
How did you become interested in food?
I have always had an insatiable curiosity about food and a burning desire to understand the whys of cooking. I found myself questioning so many different aspects of cooking as I helped my mother cook. I never thought about pursuing a career in it until my junior year of high school when I took a “home ec” class as an elective. Once I began learning about the ins and out of food and cooking, I fell in love. I immediately knew there was nothing else I could ever dream of spending the rest of my life doing.
Why did you choose the CIA?
I actually started my culinary education at a different cooking school, where I quickly noticed that all of the materials we were using in class—from our textbooks to our utensils—were made by The Culinary Institute of America. It was at this point that I figured I should just cut out the middle man and apply to the CIA. When I learned about CIA’s Culinary Science program and its unique dedication to understanding food, I felt it was an obvious fit for me.
What do you like best about the CIA?
The best part about going to the CIA is all of the connections you make during your time here. Not only do you get to build a network of all of the amazing chefs you have as instructors, but you are able to connect with the future generation of culinary professionals as you work alongside them in all of your classes. Furthermore, all of the people you come into contact with at the CIA have something to teach you and they are all willing to share that knowledge if you are willing to listen.
Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I am a member of the Eta Sigma Delta Honor Society, which is the CIA chapter of the international hospitality management honor society. Our main focus with this club is community service, and we sponsor numerous community service activities both on and off campus every semester. Additionally, I am the vice president of the Culinary Science Club, where I am able to share my passion for the blending of science and food with students outside of the Culinary Science program through the various tastings and events we organize.
What is your favorite dish to make?
My favorite dish would be chicken roulade because it is incredibly simple to make, but it looks super-fancy. It’s great for when I’m trying to impress my friends and family without having to do too much work. A seared chicken breast roulade stuffed with spinach and Parmesan served over roasted vegetable risotto with a wine and herb reduction sauce is sure to impress anyone without completely exhausting the chef.
How has your CIA education prepared you for the business side of food?
An education from The Culinary Institute of America provides you with all of the skills necessary to succeed within the kitchen as well as the knowledge needed to successfully survive out of the kitchen. Not only do we learn the proper ways to cook and bake, but we also learn about menu development and profit-and-loss statements. The CIA produces well-rounded culinary professionals, not just chefs and bakers.
What is the best lesson you’ve learned while at the CIA?
One of the most striking lessons I’ve learned during my time at the CIA is the importance of not cutting corners. Whether you’re browning the tomato paste for a veal stock, proofing bread dough, or braising short ribs, good things take time. Don’t try and rush something for the sake of getting it done faster; you will always lose something important in cutting down the process. This doesn’t just apply to food either…rushing through life will make you miss all the important little details.
What are your career goals and how will your CIA education help you get there?
The unique blending of education about science and food that the culinary science degree offers allows me to leave the CIA with the knowledge necessary to enter research and development kitchens. I have a dream of making convenience foods healthy, and teaching nutrition and mindful eating to children in an attempt to create a generation that has a greater appreciation for the food they are consuming on a daily basis.
What advice would you give to a new student or someone who is considering attending the CIA?
Never settle. Good is never good enough. Keep pushing until you break through that wall standing in your way. You are capable of so much more than you think you are, but you have to put in the effort to prove it to yourself. And the only person you should be proving anything to or comparing yourself to is yourself. Always strive to be better than you were yesterday. Read the books, learn the ratios, ask questions, be curious, stay passionate, do good work, and above all—stay humble. There are so many beautiful things to come in your future, but never forget where you started. We all cut ourselves mincing shallots at some point in our careers…don’t let your newfound dexterity allow you to forget that.