Payton Spear – Student Bio
“My parents always told me that the biggest investment you’ll ever make is your education and to compromise that will affect your career. I wanted the best education offered in my field, so the CIA was the only option I would consider.”
How did you become interested in food?
My love for food came when I was a child, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I realized my passion could become a career. Since then I have pushed for my future in the food industry and never looked back, taking hold of every opportunity to further my education.
Why did you choose the CIA?
The CIA is known as the premier culinary school. Its name and reputation echoes throughout the world. My parents always told me that the biggest investment you’ll ever make is your education and to compromise that will affect your career. I wanted the best education offered in my field, so the CIA was the only option I would consider.
How have scholarships and/or grants helped you reach your goal of getting a CIA education?
So far, an entire year of my schooling has been paid off due to scholarships offered to me. If not for them, I wouldn’t be attending the school I love and enjoying the opportunities offered to me.
What do you like best about the CIA?
The entire curriculum is related to your field and the people here are all about what you love to do. You can have an hour-long conversation about cakes and not even realize so much time has passed because it’s something you and your peers are passionate about.
Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
In my time at CIA before extern, I was a member of SPICE (Student Programming Igniting Campus Entertainment), serving as VP as well as acting president of the club at one point. I also took part in numerous events with Dr. JJ (James Manley, associate dean of campus life and student development). Being a tour guide has helped in guiding me to new and exciting opportunities as well.
What is your favorite dish to make?
My favorite dish to make by far is macarons. They were what drew me to experiment with new flavor components as well as fine-dining desserts. At one point my high school culinary program was featured on FOX News 13 and I made three flavors of macarons in the early morning live program. After that event, I knew this was something I wanted to invest my life in.
How has your CIA education prepared you for the business side of food?
I see now that to every creative idea there needs to be a realistic voice saying how you can make this become a reality. What are your food costs? How will people you’re marketing to view it? These were things I knew were important but never knew how to consider before attending the CIA. And I’ve seen through real-life experience how important these questions are during my externship at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach, FL.
What are the best lessons you’ve learned while at the CIA?
Never to let stress get the best of you. There are plenty of people on campus here to help you succeed. Just ask for it and they will be there for you in any way possible. Also know the education you receive is what you make of it—take every chance you have to further yourself. Networking is key, so get to know your chefs and listen to what they have to say. They have been in this industry and know exactly what it takes to be successful.
What are your career goals and how will your CIA education help you get there?
I would love to become executive chef at a Four Seasons resort and travel the globe understanding the many cultures and how food plays such a major part in our lives. My externship at the Four Season has helped me prepare for graduation and all that is available afterwards. Eventually I would also love to have a large social media presence. I would never have had the connections I have now if not for my schooling.
What advice would you give to a new student or someone who is considering attending the CIA?
Don’t hold back. Take every chance to better yourself as a chef. It’s within our nature to be curious and explore. If CIA is an option for you, then take it and go all in. You won’t regret going to a school where so many amazing people have gotten their start. If travel is something you want to consider, then the CIA is key to making it happen for you.