August 8, 2016

Latina Eats: Latin Concentration hosts South American Pop-Up Dinner


This is the twelfth 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.

As my summer semester in San Antonio comes to an end, I can’t help but reflect on what an amazing time I’ve had these past 11 weeks. This people on this campus continue to wow me with their warm hospitality and their ability to be a small family. I like to think the campus is this way because we’re located in the great south where hospitality is king…but who knows? All I know is that if you ever get the chance to visit this campus, or perhaps even study here, you’ll quickly realize what I’m talking about. This is our second to last week in San Antonio, so we are making sure to enjoy our last moments in the Lone Star State.


This Week in the Latin Kitchen…

This week we concluded our South American studies. The final two countries we explored? Ecuador and Bolivia. What amazing food they have. As for Bolivia, modongo and quinoa bread were my two favorite recipes. Bolivia’s staple ingredients are corn and potatoes, and modongo includes both of these. It’s crispy pork in a velvety smooth aji (chile) sauce with chocolate. Underneath lies a mixture of aji amarillo, pork skin, corn, and potatoes. Another gem from Bolivia is quinoa bread. Once we dove into the cuisine of South America, I learned that Incan and Quechua civilizations used and cultivated quinoa regularly, forever influencing the countries that are here today. Quinoa bread was surprisingly simple to make, and it’s an easy and delicious substitute for bread made with wheat flour.

Ecuador also had some amazing recipes. Who would imagine that potato cakes with a peanut sauce would be so incredibly good? LLapingachos are just that. A fluffy potato pancake flavored with achiote oil and cheese, then topped off with a roasted peanut and chile sauce called salsa de mani. That day in class, we decided to top the potato cakes off with a sunny side up egg, which for the record was not a bad decision at all.


Check out the delicious South American recipes we created this week:






Salsa de mani



Quinoa bread





Our Final Pop-up Dinner

This week not only concluded the South American part of our curriculum, it also featured our final pop-up dinner. As bittersweet as the whole experience was, this last dinner really reflected how much we’ve learned as a group and as individuals. We organized almost every aspect of the dinner. The courses, the drinks, even the sequence of the dinner were organized by us. We executed it together, as a group from start to finish. Thanks to Chef Remolina and his guidance throughout the dinner, we fed 16 happy diners who were very content and very full by the end of the night. We’ve definitely learned a lot from each dinner, so it was nice to see how each one was progressively smoother than the one before.


I don’t know where else I would have gotten this hands-on experience as a student. The pop-ups were among the most beneficial parts of the Latin concentration. Each involved planning, organizing, and executing an idea from start to finish. These dinners also taught me about my own personal style of cooking and how to collaborate ideas with people, which is such an important quality to have for this industry. I know that I’ll use all of this knowledge when I begin to work full-time in the food world.


Our final pop-up dinner’s theme was South America, so we got the chance to showcase what my classmates and I have been learning for the past three weeks. In our menu, we included foods from Argentina, Brazil, and Peru, to name a few. The menu included a charcuterie board, which showcased a variety of house-made sausages, compotes, and one of our favorite Brazilian breads, pão de queijo. Also included as part of a course was causas, one of the many notable dishes from Peru. As the main course, we served lomo saltado, an Asian-influenced dish that represents Peru and its multicultural cuisine in so many ways. This dish is beef stir-fried with onions and a variety of Asian condiments like soy sauce and oyster sauce. The end result: perfectly tender beef in a savory sauce served over fluffy white rice. Dessert was a Peruvian doughnut served underneath a silky passionfruit ice cream.


We had so much fun during this dinner, and we are so grateful that we have all of these experiences under our belt.

Mil gracias, Chef Remolina!!



The finished charcuterie plate



Greg plating the lomo saltado



Chef Remolina with the girls of the class



The guys from the class and me



Juan and I plating Beet and aji amarillo causa rolls, crawfish filling, pickled beets, avocado puree



Lomo saltado


Goodbye, San Antonio! ( almost)

Our last week of the Latin concentration starts this Tuesday. Where did the time go? It’s crazy to see how quickly time passes while you’re having fun. For our last week, we will be learning about Latin American bread and pastries with Chef Dubernard, one of the pastry chefs from the San Antonio campus. We will also be presenting our senior thesis this week! A very exciting way to end our time here in the great state of Texas.

Until next week,


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