Cook’s Illustrated Chef Dan Souza ’08, Editor in Chief
CIA Alumni Bio
“The CIA became my graduate school. It was where I learned the most about food in the shortest amount of time.”
Falling Into the Industry
Like many college graduates, Dan Souza was in a quandary. With a BA in business from the University of Richmond in hand, the question “What next?” loomed large. The answer turned out to be…travel. “I went to Hungary for a year to teach English as a second language, although I wasn’t very good at it and didn’t speak Hungarian,” Dan explained. One of his ESL students was a chef at a local restaurant and event space in a town of 1,500 residents. Dan started working in the kitchen on weekends. “In preparation for weddings we would break down a half steer,” he says. “It was a great place to learn, and I fell in love with the process of spending the day in the kitchen working with raw ingredients, and seeing it all come together.”
A Perfect Match
Back home in Boston, MA, Dan worked for an ad agency during the week and continued improving his skills at a local restaurant on weekends. Confident the food industry was his calling, Dan contemplated furthering his education. “The CIA became my graduate school. It was where I learned the most about food in the shortest amount of time,” says Dan. “I appreciated the structure of the curriculum and how dedicated the CIA is to the profession. You get a clear understanding of where food comes from, how the techniques work, a focus on organization and precision, and understanding of how the history of the masters—Carême, Escoffier, Point, and Bocuse—influences where we are today. I’ve always loved writing and science and the kitchen was a perfect melding of those passions.”
America’s Test Kitchen
In 2008, Dan joined America’s Test Kitchen (ATK). “It was an ideal environment for problem-solving with food as the medium,” he explains. In his time as a test cook, Dan created hundreds of recipes for Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks. Over time, Dan’s role in the company expanded. He served as the editor for both James Beard Award-nominated Cook’s Science and The New York Times bestseller The Science of Cooking; was a frequent contributor to America’s Test Kitchen Radio and The Splendid Table radio program; was executive editor of Cook’s Science website; and was an ATK cast member and on-air science expert. He traveled up the ranks at Cook’s Illustrated magazine from test cook to senior editor, and now to editor in chief. In his new role, Dan will oversee both print and digital formats for the brand.
Food and Social Media
“One of the biggest opportunities, and what will be my focus, is bringing Cook’s Illustrated to alternative platforms to give our audience a unique experience packed with information,” says Dan. “With social media like Facebook and Instagram, we have direct contact with our viewers and receive instant feedback. In the future, we’ll hold bi-monthly live Q&As with the ATK team.” Dan is also the host of the YouTube show What’s Eating Dan? where he does deep dives in to singular subjects.
“This is a deeply rewarding job and I use the skills I developed at the CIA on a daily basis,” Dan says. “For current students, my advice would be to think big and make your own path. There are so many avenues of opportunity in today’s food culture. If you love what you do, follow that path and be open to possibilities.”
Chef Dan Souza majored in Culinary Arts while attending The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He is the editor in chief at Cook’s Illustrated magazine based out of Brookline, MA.