August 12, 2016

Latina Eats: Farewell to an Amazing Semester in San Antonio

This is the thirteenth entry of a multi-part series by our student blogger Giselle.  Check back each week for the next installment of her experience during her semester away in San Antonio.

Hello! I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer so far. I’ve had the best summer in Texas, but sadly, it’s my last week in San Antonio. I’ve made many good friends here and I’ve learned so much in the past 12 weeks. Now, it’s time to apply this knowledge and get ready to work in some really great places after I graduate. This week we continued studying South American cuisine and we also studied the world of Latin American baking and pastry! It was such a fun week. With that said, let’s see how our final days in the Latin Kitchen were.


This Week in the Latin Kitchen…

On our last week, we finished off the South American part of the curriculum by exploring the food of the largest country in South America, Brazil. What I found fascinating about their cuisine is that their staple crop is manioc, often referred to as yucca or cassava. This root is extremely important to Brazil. From breads to farofa, the uses of it are endless. It’s versatile in its flavor profiles and textures, depending on how it’s prepared. I made feijoada, an iconic dish from Brazil. It’s a hearty stew made from black beans, salted pig ears, salt-cured meat called carne seca, and Brazilian rum. It’s topped off with orange segments, and dried manioc flour, that was toasted with lard and tossed with crispy pork. Oh, so good.

The importance of manioc in Brazil is interesting because in many of the Latin American countries we’ve studied, corn is usually king. Corn is a staple crop in Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia, to name a few, but now that we’ve finished covering many Latin American countries, it’s clear to see that there are three crops that dominate Latin America. The three are corn, yucca, and potatoes. These foods are so incredibly important to Latin America, they sustained the large populations of ancient civilizations like the Aztec, Inca, and the Maya. They were the center of focus in religious ceremonies, and they contributed to the cultural identities of Latin America. To see the connection between the food that’s eaten today in Latin America and what was eaten thousands of years ago is one of the most important things that I’ve learned this semester. These crops continue to dominate the gastronomy of Latin America, which in my opinion is a very big deal in regards to not only food, but agriculture, economy, and history.



Xinxim de galinha, a chicken stew made with roasted nut puree, dried shrimp, ginger, and coconut milk





Making Latin American Breads with Chef Dubernard

This week we  had the chance to work with Chef Dubernard, the baking and pastry professor at the San Antonio campus. Working with him and learning about different Latin American breads was so much fun. We were tight on time, so we were only able to make a few breads with him, but we all really appreciated the time he took out of his week to work with us and teach us about the delicious breads of Latin America.

Chef Dubernard helped us prepare three recipes. First, pan de muertos, a brioche-like bread which is made during Day of the Dead in November. The pan de muertos is decorated in colorful sugars and decorations, which makes delicious and beautiful. We also made one of my favorites, conchitas, also a brioche-like bread with a chocolate sugar topping. These two are eaten for breakfast in my house, usually with coffee or Mexican hot chocolate. I like to call them, the breakfast of champions. Last but not least, we prepared a Mexican classic, bollios. This is a football shaped bread, similar in flavor to a baguette, but a lot softer. This are often eaten as tortas, a sandwich stuffed with anything from chorizo to avocado and beans.

We had a blast learning from Chef Dubernard and we are glad that we were able to explore the baking and pastry side of Latin American cuisine.

Gracias, Chef!



Conchitas cooling down



Pan de muertos, basted with egg wash and ready to bake!



Conchitas, ready to be eaten



Colorful sugars that were used to decorate the pan de muertos



The finished bollios



Pan de muertos

The End of an Amazing Semester

Well, the time has finally come, everyone. My semester away in San Antonio is officially over. Twelve weeks have never gone by so quickly. I can honestly say this was my favorite semester during my time with the CIA. All of the classes I took prior to the Latin concentration have prepared me for this amazing semester. Organization, creativity, and teamwork are tested here, truly making it a time where we can showcase what I’ve learned over the last three years. Chef Remolina, my classmates, and all of the talented individuals at this campus have made my time here memorable, without a doubt, they will have an impact on my future career. It’s definitely bittersweet to amazing experience to come to an end, but I am ready to apply the knowledge I’ve gained here.

Thank you to everyone who’s made an impression on me during my time in San Antonio. I will miss everything about this campus, but I’m excited to see what the future holds!

Until next time,



Latin Cuisines Concentration Class, 2016

Giselle Sigala

Hello everyone, my name is Giselle Sigala and I am currently a seventh-semester bachelor’s student at The Culinary Institute of America. I’m honored and excited to be the student blogger for the Latin Cuisine Concentration at the San Antonio, TX campus!

A little bit about myself:

I was born in Long Beach, CA and was raised in Fort Worth, TX since the age of 3. (So I’m a Texan at heart…Go TCU!) My parents are both immigrants from Zacatecas, Mexico, so my siblings and I are the first generation in our family to study in the United States.

Since I can remember, I have always had a fascination with cooking and anything food related. As a child, instead of playing with dolls I was begging my mother for an Easy-Bake oven. (Which I found is a common memory with a lot of CIA students. Right? No? Ok fine, I guess it was just me! Haha.) My fondest memories as a child are set in the kitchen, from helping my mom flip tortillas—I remember always burning the tips of my fingers—to the simple smell of charcoal burning on a Sunday afternoon, because this meant a carne asada was in the works…which also meant we were going to eat some great food! Yum!

A major factor that played into my decision to come to The Culinary Institute of America was the large success of my parents’ carnicerias (a Mexican meat market that sells a variety of produce and delicious baked goods). By spending most of my childhood in the carniceria’s kitchen and bakery, I quickly realized that I had a passion for Latin American cuisine. With time, I knew that there was nothing I’d rather do than to make people happy by cooking for them. Knowing this about myself helped me make my decision about coming to the CIA. And honestly, this place has given me countless amazing opportunities and experiences. The CIA has helped me pursue my dream of working in some of the best kitchens around the world, cooking Latin food, and potentially opening up my own business in the future.I couldn't imagine going anywhere else to pursue these aspirations. It is truly an amazing program that is always evolving and striving to be the best it can be.

As a CIA alum, I couldn't be happier to have chosen to pursue my career goals here. Since my graduation from the associate program in June 2015, I have come to admire and appreciate different cuisines and cultures from all over the globe. From the Cuisines of the Americas class I took to the Cuisines of Asia course, this school has taught me that I can learn so much from a culture by simply learning about their food.With that, I am excited to start my semester studying the vibrant food of Latin America at the beautiful CIA San Antonio in Texas. The campus looks amazing, and I can’t wait to write about my experiences! I invite you to check out my blog as I cook some delicious food, explore an exciting city, and learn from some of the best-trained chefs in the industry!

Giselle Sigala