Liam Kamp ’15
How did you become interested in your major?
When I arrived at The Culinary Institute of America I knew I had a passion for food. But I wanted to combine that passion with other areas of study. During the associate program, gastronomy with Dr. Costura opened my eyes to a world of possibilities where history, anthropology, ecology, and food combined. Entering the bachelor’s program for Culinary Arts Management, I had opportunities to take more diverse classes on these subjects and I jumped at the chance. It was in Ecology of Food with Dr. Murphy that I realized how big of an opportunity it would be to use food as a way of helping other people and the planet. When the bachelor’s program in Applied Food Studies was announced I was quite upset that it was not an option sooner, but I knew I wanted to be involved. Where there is a will there is a way and I feel as though this school embraces that. I was able to work out staying an extra semester to pursue a double major here at the CIA, including Applied Food Studies and Culinary Management, and I am ecstatic.
Who most influenced your decision to pursue this career?
After my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimers someone needed to take over cooking Thanksgiving dinner. While my first attempt was full of many fails, it was the perfect place to begin and I knew with time I could get better. While my grandmother was always so supportive, the biggest influence in pursuing this career came from within myself. I saw food as a way to connect to others, help people, and learn a skill that will always be useful.
Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
As a high school student I did not finish my junior and senior year at my best, which pushed me out of the running for several colleges I wanted to attend. After being stuck at home for a semester at a community college, I knew I needed to get my life going. The CIA is known for excellence, professionalism, and passion; and I knew it was going to be a wakeup call. I have continued to grow and learn every day on this campus. It has turned me into the passionate and driven young man I am today. During my time at CIA, I transitioned not only into adulthood but into the man I always dreamed of being. After the externship portion of the program I went from Trish to Liam and really began the path to accepting myself. I have had countless professors support me across this campus, which has made the transition smooth. With this transition came an increased interest in gender and its relationship to everyday items. Food and its relationship to identity has played a large role in my life and is something I have spent the last year studying. This transition has allowed me to have the confidence to move forward in this industry. I have had opportunities here to bring more light to the transgender community, as well as in other local schools. The CIA has given me a chance to find out what is important to me and to use my knowledge and transition to inform other students and faculty about this topic.
Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose the CIA because it offered me an escape from the mundane. I was attending community college when I signed up for an information session and tour on my birthday in November 2011. When I arrived on campus there was just something about it that felt so right. I knew I wanted to come here. I was passionate about a variety of subjects. I thought I could combine those subjects with food, which is exactly what I am doing. I knew the program at the CIA in culinary arts would give me the discipline, organization, and leaderships skills I needed to be successful. Food is life and there’s no better place to be and share that philosophy.
What do you like best about the CIA?
What I love about the CIA is the people on this campus, from the students to faculty, all of them provide a wealth of knowledge. The people on this campus are some of the hardest working people I have ever met. They all seem to present this air of greatness and passion that is indescribable through words alone. It’s just such a positive environment and it’s constantly presenting new opportunities. I couldn’t picture a better community to be a part of.
Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I have been a Resident Assistant on campus since eight weeks into the associate program and it’s been a wonderful ride. You really get to expand your leadership skills and it provides great opportunity to network with other students on campus. I am currently attempting to reform The Guild of Tea as I was elected president. I am a tutor in the tutoring center here on campus and it’s been a really rewarding experience. It’s a chance to help so many people and give back the knowledge the institute has given you. I love when students have their own “A-HA” moment where it all makes sense. If you do well in a class and you can help other people succeed, you should take that opportunity.
What are your career goals or plans right after graduation?
After graduation I plan on pursuing a master’s degree in Food Studies. Although I am not sure where I am going to end up in the long run, I know I want to use food to make positive changes for everyone. Food is a very powerful vessel that makes its way into homes around the globe. It is something everyone needs to survive. I would like to improve food systems around the globe, provide more education to people about where their food comes from, and research more about the nature of progress in the food landscape.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering attending the CIA?
Be prepared, stay humble, and be passionate. This school has so many opportunities and sometimes, if you blink, you can miss them. Constantly strive to be better and have a love for food. It is what brings everyone on campus together. This school is intense, wonderful, challenging, and a whole lot of fun. You have to be ready to answer the door when opportunity knocks and be ready to devote a lot of time to practice in order to improve.