Kole Bailey – Student Bio


Image of Kole Bailey, CIA food business management degree student.

“Since every professor and chef is hired after working many years in the industry, with many being leaders of their craft (CMCs and CMBs), I know I am getting top-tier business acumen from past owners of the country’s best restaurants, bars, kitchens, restaurant groups, and more.”

Major: Bachelor’s Degree in Food Business Management
Campus: Hyde Park, NY
Hometown: Jackson, NJ

How did you become interested in food?
My parents came from a rich cultural background—my father West Indian, my mother from Puerto Rico—but due to money problems growing up I never got to dive too deep into those delicious foods. After years of living in a food desert, I realized how much more I could learn. My guidance counselor in high school recommended cooking in a vocational school and I got connected to the CIA from there!

Why did you choose the CIA?
My high school mentor, CIA alumnus Gary Lesniak, was a proud, respected, and hard-working chef. He directed me to the CIA, and I wanted to learn where he did. Seeing the campus and discovering all the extracurricular programming on campus solidified my choice in coming to The Culinary.

How have scholarships and/or grants helped you reach your goal of getting a CIA education?
I was given the President’s Scholarship upon arriving thanks to recommendations from alumni and my GPA. And three years of working in Residence Life not only taught me strong personal skills, but also provided me with a housing grant throughout most of my college career.

What do you like best about the CIA?
The microclimate of foodies and kitchen workers breeds some of the most interesting conversations from people of completely diverse walks of life. Compared to other colleges, the CIA is one of the few that the entire student body shares one commonality: food! Every day you meet the most distinctly independent people on the planet, and yet each encounter will always have something bringing you together!

Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I have been in the Student Government Association for years and currently chair a student advocacy committee based on reducing waste on campus—the Student Sustainability Committee. We helped launch the community garden last April. Besides my years in Res life as an RA and SRA—where I help make the resident halls the best places to live with monthly programming—I am also a bachelor’s ambassador helping to educate students on their potential areas of study, via informative events such as our concentration fair/panel.

What is your favorite dish to make? Why?
I love one-pot stir fries because as a college student it allows a quick put-together of food, but you can still use your creativity and intuition when adding all of the spare ingredients from your pantry or fridge. Every stir fry is different and delicious because of the sauces, cooking oils, produce, and spices I use for each one. Very delicious and, more importantly, very cost-effective!

How has your CIA education prepared you for the business side of food?
Since every professor and chef is hired after working many years in the industry, with many being leaders of their craft (CMCs and CMBs), I know I am getting top-tier business acumen from past owners of the country’s best restaurants, bars, kitchens, restaurant groups, and more. The vernacular bestowed on us makes it easy to assimilate into “real-life” encounters. It also makes it easier to move on from the CIA, as many professors and chefs continue the dialogue after graduation, offering business help, work recommendations, and even their favorite place in the city to visit with friends!

What is the best lesson you’ve learned while at the CIA?
My years in high school were unfortunately spent not speaking as I had some anxiety growing up, which I know is not uncommon for people. Thanks to the opportunities I took in at the CIA, I was given responsibility and became able to speak for myself, and now spend my days teaching and empowering others to do the same. That is where my passion for SGA, Res Life, being a bachelor’s ambassador, and my student advocacy committees comes from. My goal here is to have the voices of everyone be heard and bring people together to make everyone more comfortable in their own skin and develop professional behaviors that can stretch well after our time at The Culinary. Everyone has a voice, and it’s my job to make that voice be heard everywhere!

What are your career goals and how will your CIA education help you get there?
I hope one day to be running my own farm-to-table coffee shop (I love caffeine more than I love most drinks, including water). I’ve worked in cafés for a few years and even learned how to start my own through my business classes in my bachelor’s degree. Thanks to my Human Resources Management class, I already have a comprehensive employee manual for the people I will hopefully one day hire!

What advice would you give to a new student or someone who is considering attending the CIA?
Get involved from the very beginning. You will meet the most interesting, hilarious, and hard-working people in your college career through the myriad of leadership positions, clubs, and committees on campus. True passion is not just seen in the kitchen or in class, it is what you choose to do in the hours of free time you’re given. I promise you’ll know what I mean when you see it.