9 Essential CIA Student Back-to-School Supplies


When back-to-school shopping season rolls around, you may think of the typical supplies like pencils, notebooks, and sticky notes. Here at the CIA, our supply list is a little different. Here are side-by-side comparisons of some of the essentials—including a few that may surprise you!

1. Patterned duct tape vs. correction tape

Correction tape is great for concealing your mix-ups on paper. What you don’t want here is to get your knives mixed up with someone else’s! Patterned duct tape lets you easily identify which knives belong to you.

2. Mini notebook vs. composition notebook

You won’t be able to carry around a composition notebook while you’re in the kitchen—there’s too much action! Instead, buy a mini notebook to keep in your chef’s jacket pocket. You never know when you’re going to need to jot down some notes during service.

3. 6-inch ruler vs. 12-inch ruler

While almost any size ruler could be put to use in the kitchen, a 6-inch ruler is perfect for measuring and perfecting your knife cuts.

4. Cake tester vs. protractor

Protractors are used to measure the number of degrees in an angle, but we think you’ll get a lot more use out of a cake tester. Baking and pastry students use them to check doneness of their baked goods, and culinary students, the doneness of their fish.  

5. Sharpies vs. No. 2 pencils

Sure, pencils are useful, but in the kitchen, a Sharpie marker can be used to date and label ingredients.

6. White T-shirts vs. graphic T-shirts

You’ll be issued a CIA uniform, but you will definitely want to invest in plain white T-shirts to wear underneath your chef’s jacket, as well as black socks to complete your look (it’s dress code, y’all). But don’t worry, you can wear your statement tees when you’re hanging out in your room or at The Egg.

7. Kitchen shoes vs. sneakers

A new pair of shoes is always a first-day-of-school staple. For the CIA, you’ll want to purchase kitchen shoes that meet our criteria: black, sturdy, with non-slip soles. (And if they have laces, they need to be black laces.)

8. Cookbooks vs. textbooks

Here’s a case where CIA students need both—textbooks for your academic classes and also cookbooks for your hands-on kitchen classes!

9. Bleach pen vs. stain remover stick

Yes, a stain remover stick is helpful to get that small stain out of your shirt before class, but CIA students know that having bleach handy is essential for keeping your chef’s jacket clean.