Altamash Gaziyani – Student Bio
“I love that The Culinary Institute of America is a place where hard work, forward thinking, and initiative are held in such high regard. The quality and amount of resources provided here—whether culinary, financial, or inspirational in nature—are unparalleled.”
How did you become interested in food?
Coming from a culinary-focused and rather open-minded household, I was always allowed to have an opinion on the subject of food, especially considering that my family was in the industry already. It was always a topic that I could immerse myself into fully, whether I was idly bantering with my parents over MasterChef Australia episodes and that recipe from the show that didn’t work, or making a case for agricultural rights in papers and as a representative at world conferences. Transitioning that passion from a hobby to a career seemed instinctual to me from the very first time I made my family a shepherd’s pie for supper. Something about observing their joy and merriment as they ate my food filled me with a warmth that nothing else has been able to compare to yet.
Why did you choose the CIA?
Simply put, it was, based on my research, the most academically advanced and highly recommended of all the options I was considering for culinary school. The chefs instructing students are legendary, as are the alumni and the quality of food produced here; such hard evidence made it extremely difficult to regard any alternative.
How have scholarships and/or grants helped you reach your goal of getting a CIA education?
As an international student, the Ferdinand Metz Endowed Scholarship was the only one that I could pick, which I did to great avail in my sophomore year.
What do you like best about the CIA?
I love that The Culinary Institute of America is a place where hard work, forward thinking, and initiative are held in such high regard. The quality and amount of resources provided here—whether culinary, financial, or inspirational in nature—are unparalleled. The students who mine the most out of this institution are those willing to put in the extra hours and effort to learn how to perfect a velouté or craft a chocolate truffle from scratch, even if they aren’t necessarily required to go the extra mile. This school rewards my hard work with knowledge and recognition upon which I know I can build my career, and for that I’m truly grateful.
Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I briefly served as the editor-in-chief for the CIA Digital Media Club, contributing articles and written content to supplement the audiovisual team, before spinning off and developing my own website to post my original work.
I have worked on campus at all four restaurants currently open for service in both back-of-house and service positions, as well as volunteered for and catered at several events, receptions, and dinners on campus.
I also pursued my passion for songwriting and music via the school’s acapella group and the music club, Culinary Notes.
What is your favorite dish to make?
My favorite dish both to cook and eat is butter chicken, a classic curry with Mughlai roots that has gained popularity around the world as an Indian staple. There’s something potently alchemic about brewing that curry—with its layers of creamy complexity and delicate, fragrant spices imbuing the meat—that fascinates me, simply because it’s such a labor of love to hit the balance of flavors and richness every time I prepare it for family or friends. It’s a dish that connects me to my roots, and one of those in my repertoire that I’m proudest to make for the people I care about.
How has your CIA education prepared you for the business side of food?
The CIA hardened me to the realities of the industry; it certainly opened my eyes and allowed me to recognize that the culinary field is characterized by perseverance and strength. However, it also showed me that cooking in a kitchen isn’t necessarily the only option I have in the business. My education as a Culinary Science major is highly applicable should I choose to open my own establishment, delve into R&D, or continue writing to become a food editor among so many more options—something I never realized until the CIA showed me all the possibilities available to me.
What are the best lessons you’ve learned while at the CIA?
Being here, I’ve been able to fashion my own culinary identity through my food and express food I personally love eating in creative ways that still preserve the soul of my native cuisine. After committing to memory the fundamentals of cooking, I am now free to explore flavors and ingredients fearlessly, thanks to my education.
I’ve also learned by working and studying at the CIA that this is an industry full of people who are giving by nature, and are simply looking to be shown respect for the hospitality they toil to provide. My time here has taught me how to communicate, interact, and enjoy every second with some of the most hardworking individuals I’ve met; I’m a better person because of it.
What are your career goals and how will your CIA education help you get there?
My primary goal today is to become a food writer and editor at some point, after traveling as much as I can to absorb as much as I can about global cuisines and cultures. Writing and expressing my emotions, experiences, and memories is my true passion; food is the vehicle that I plan to use to do so professionally. My education, credentials, and the work ethic I’ve developed as a consequence of it are what drive me to take bigger, bolder risks and learn more about food every single day.
What advice would you give to a new student or someone who is considering attending the CIA?
Apply yourself every second of every day, especially if you choose to attend the CIA. This school pays rich dividends that let you build a beautiful life in the culinary industry, but only if you’re committed to making the most of it and making every minute and lesson count along the way.