Majestic Lewis-Bryant – Student Bio
“I have met so many different people from all over the world through the CIA. A lot of my classmates are international students, and I don’t feel like I would have had the opportunity to meet and work with so many of them if I had chosen to go to another school.”
How did you become interested in food?
I became interested in food as a young child. I would always love to play restaurant. I had a toy kitchen and lots of toy foods. I was the chef of the kitchen and my family members were my customers. As a kid, I even had dreams of owning my own food truck and traveling the world with it!
I was also born with a rare genetic metabolic disorder called galactosemia. This makes me allergic to all dairy products, including milk, cheese, and butter. It was and still is extremely hard for me to eat out or get pre-made food because of my allergy. This made me more prone to make my own foods growing up. I love having the ability to make variations to foods in different ways that would allow me to eat them.
Why did you choose the CIA?
My high school actually introduced me to the CIA! I had told my teachers that I wanted to be a chef and they gave me insight on what to research. So I then searched online for the best culinary school and The Culinary Institute of America popped right up. I thought it looked so fancy. It was the first school I saw and I immediately fell in love with it! I was impressed with the notable alumni. Some of my favorite chefs, including Anne Burrell and Grant Achatz, graduated from the CIA. I saw how successful they have become and I knew I wanted the same success for myself.
How have scholarships and/or grants helped you reach your goal of getting a CIA education?
For my incoming freshman year, I received the President’s Scholarship for my high school GPA. I also received a $1,000 Alumni Referral Scholarship as a result of a recommendation letter the head nutritionist from my high school—a CIA graduate—wrote on my behalf.
What do you like best about the CIA?
THE EXPERIENCE! I have met so many different people from all over the world through the CIA. A lot of my classmates are international students, and I don’t feel like I would have had the opportunity to meet and work with so many of them if I had chosen to go to another school. I now have friends who are from Japan and Peru!
I also appreciate that the CIA has dozens of food-related demonstrations and events. I was able to attend a cooking demo by a Korean Buddhist nun! I was so amazed by her vegan recipes. I was even able to meet Amanda Freitag and get her autograph from a book signing.
Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
Yes, I am a CIA tour guide. It’s a great networking opportunity and gives me more confidence speaking in front of large crowds. Once I even met the standing head pastry chef at the White House! I’m on the Judiciary Board, a student-run initiative that helps students understand how their behavior impacts the campus community and themselves through a fair process for investigating certain rules violations. I’m also a writer for the CIA student newspaper, La Papillote. I love writing and reading literature in general, so writing for the paper allows me to talk about campus events, anything food-related, and other fun activities happening in the Hudson Valley. Writing for the paper also gave me the opportunity to become a student blogger for the CIA. I blog and share my culinary science journey in the hopes of encouraging other students to gain curiosity in the science side and the “whys” of food.
What is your favorite dish to make?
Well, I don’t actually have a favorite dish. I love a lot of things! I’m a pescatarian and eventually want to transition to being fully vegan. I love to make anything savory that involves tofu or lasagna or pasta. I’m in love with quinoa and add it to just about everything. I also love any pan-seared fish with an exciting coulis or sauce.
How has your CIA education prepared you for the business side of food?
My CIA education prepared me for the business side of food through the costing classes. It was in these classes that I actually ran the costing and finances of restaurant equipment for both front of house and back of house. We actually did a project that involved the pros and cons of using certain equipment versus others. We also ran the final costs of each to see which would require the most money to run and maintain for a specific amount of time.
What are the best lessons you’ve learned while at the CIA?
I’ve learned so many valuable lessons at the CIA! One is to never stop practicing our skills daily. Sometimes if you don’t use your knife skills for a while you may forget them. She advised us to practice, practice, practice, so we can always stay sharp!
Another great lesson I’ve learned is how to properly keep my kitchen organized and clean. All the chefs here at the CIA are strict about station cleanliness and how to properly keep items in the walk-in. I will definitely pass these practices on and use them in the industry!
What are your career goals and how will your CIA education help you get there?
After I graduate with my bachelor’s degree in culinary science, I have plans to get my master’s degree in nutrition. I want to become a registered dietitian. I am intrigued with how the brain reacts and perceives food. I ultimately have long-term goals of working with people who have mental illnesses. I believe that food has the ability to be the best medicine. I would love to be able to treat or even cure mental disorders through the power of food. Mental illness is a very personal topic to me. If there is any possible way I can change the world, I’ll do so the best way I know how—through food!
My CIA education definitely has aided me in making my dreams come true. Culinary science has core classes related to flavor and senses, and how different people perceive them. I have taken dozens of notes! I appreciate the lab exercises that allow me to get a full understanding of the process and exactly how it works.
What advice would you give to a new student or someone who is considering attending the CIA?
I would suggest getting involved. It opens up so many opportunities! It is so rewarding to volunteer or to join clubs. During my freshman and sophomore years, I wasn’t involved in any clubs or activities. That is the one thing I now regret. There are so many clubs and organizations on campus that need members. It definitely gives you the chance to do things you’ve never done before!