Mai Mizuno – Student Bio
“I like how chefs are serious about educating us…there’s always fresh energy in this school. This positive atmosphere makes the CIA the best culinary school.”
Major: Associate Degree in Culinary Arts
Campus: Hyde Park, NY
Hometown: Nara, Japan
How did you become interested in food?
I didn’t see myself in the food industry until I worked at a restaurant that my friend’s father owned when I was in high school. I worked there as much as I could after school because I never felt so excited before. After high school, I decided to go to a college in Seattle for hospitality and realized that I wanted to focus on the restaurant business, so I made the decision to transfer to the CIA.
Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose the CIA because it offers degrees, has the internship program of 15 weeks, and is known as the best culinary school in the world. For international students, we have a chance to get a working experience for one year after we complete our education. I wanted to get experiences at a restaurant in the U.S., so the CIA was the best option for me.
How have scholarships and/or grants helped you reach your goal of getting a CIA education?
I’ve had financial aid almost every semester, so I was able to focus on learning here and help my parents support my education.
What do you like best about the CIA?
Atmosphere—I like how chefs are serious about educating us, how the campus is always beautiful and welcoming not only to tourists but students, and how new students enter every three weeks, so there’s always fresh energy in this school. This positive atmosphere makes the CIA the best culinary school.
Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I participated in the Latin Cuisine Club, Masala Club, and Mixology Club to meet new people. I also participated on the Welcome Team, which helps new students move in.
What is your favorite dish to make?
Sushi! I went to a technical school for making sushi before I came to the CIA and I always enjoyed making it. It’s my favorite dish because it explains my culture a lot, requires good knife skills and food safety knowledge, and is delicious. There are so many ways to make sushi and it’s up to you how you want to serve it. I think being a sushi chef is one of the most entertaining jobs in the food industry.
How has your CIA education prepared you for the business side of food?
They teach you food costing during most of the kitchen classes, which I am not good at—but it is necessary when you have your own business.
What is the best lesson you’ve learned while at the CIA?
Be proactive. I worked as a chef’s assistant as soon as I started school because I wanted to get more experiences in the kitchen besides class. It encouraged me to be proactive. One day, I immediately sent an e-mail to Asahi Shuzo when I saw the news that they were going to open a sake brewery in Hyde Park just north of the CIA. As a result, they asked me to make foods pairing with sake for the reception, which was one of the best experiences for me. I was also chosen to attend the 2018 Leadership Awards as a student ambassador. Being proactive is the best lesson I’ve learned at the CIA.
What are your career goals and how will your CIA education help you get there?
My career goal is to work with Japanese sake. I got the International Japanese Sake Sommelier license before I came to the CIA. I realized this was what I wanted to do for my career when I was asked to make food that pairs with sake at the CIA-Asahi Shuzo reception. I am not sure if I want to have my own sake bar or work as a sake sommelier yet, but I’m sure all of my experiences at the CIA will help my career in the future.
What advice would you give to a new student or someone who is considering attending the CIA?
You will meet chefs who care about you and support your career, and friends who cook and study together. Being successful at the CIA doesn’t mean you have to the best cook in the class. You don’t have to compete with anyone; just be clear about what you really want to do and what you need to do to achieve your dream. Time flies so fast here!