Michael McCarey ’15
Major: Baking and Pastry Arts Management
Hometown: Middletown, NY
How did you become interested in food?
My interest in the culinary field was rooted in my desire to have a car. At the age of 14, my parents told me if I wanted my own car, I would have to pay for it. So, I got a job as a dishwasher the summer of my freshman year of high school. Soon after, I worked my way up through a few different restaurants to becoming a line cook and a prep cook. From there, my obsession with food only intensified. After going to a vo‑tech school, I realized baking and pastry arts was my niche.
Who most influenced you?
The thing that drove me toward a career in the food industry was actually many co‑wokers and bosses telling me not to. They told me it was time consuming, tiring, and not worth it in the end. I chose to challenge them and work the hardest I could. I knew that becoming a chef had its obstacles, but if I worked hard, then it would pay off.
Did you have to overcome any obstacles or challenges to come to the CIA?
The biggest challenge I faced while coming to the CIA was the experience requirement, and the cost. The experience factor only because I had a boss that wouldn’t sign off on my experience, so I had to find another job and figure out how I was going to pay for college. I put in a lot of hard work in high school, and won a foodservice management competition. The CIA was incredibly helpful and generous with the entire process.
Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose the CIA because of 4 main reasons:
1. The experience requirement: that told me students were serious and passionate about what they’re doing.
2. The reputation: I knew the CIA was the place I needed to go.
3. The cost: After receiving my financial aid award letters from the three colleges I applied to, the CIA was actually the most affordable.
4. The degree: Very few colleges offer BPS degrees and are as credible as the CIA.
What do you like best about the CIA?
Put simply, there are very few things that I don’t like about CIA. I love that the students here talk about food, make food, eat food, think about food, and watch food TV. Its a common passion. Also, the campus is absolutely immaculate, and the staff is amazing. Their credibility, industry experience, and knowledge are exceptional. I also love how well the CIA suits me. When I’m out of class I can follow my second passion, running, with the Steel’s Cross Country Team.
What are your career goals/plans?
After graduating, I’d like to work in the industry and gain a lot of real‑world experience. Hotels, resorts, and specialty shops interest me the most. I have some experience with fondant and gum paste, so working with cakes is definitely in the cards, but I also have a strong desire to work with breads and chocolates.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering attending the CIA?
Think it through. And once you’ve thought it through for a while, and talked to people in the industry, think it through again. You have to LOVE food, in all it’s aspects. You have to be able to deal with the many sides of the industry. Chefs just don’t make the food and walk away with a paycheck. Food involves marketing, service, math, business principles, food waste, sustainability, and even ethics. It’s more complicated than just saying “I want to be a chef.” If you’re ready for the challenge, than CIA is the place for you.