Chef Ramona Nahapetian ’17, Celebrating Latino Products
CIA Alumni Bio
“Life is a funny, fickle thing.”
That’s how recent CIA graduate Ramona Nahapetian describes her journey from aspiring law school student to the food industry and Masienda, a California-based purveyor of top-quality heirloom Latin ingredients. As the office and restaurant accounts manager for Masienda, she is committed to the company’s mission of sourcing ingredients that yield exceptional flavor, promoting agricultural biodiversity and sustainability, and supporting small farmers in Mexico.
“I had all the aspirations of utilizing my degree from UC Berkeley to follow a career in intellectual property law,” Ramona says. “I took the LSAT, applied to law schools, and, just before accepting my offers, I hesitated. I wanted something else in life.” After declining her law school acceptances, she began reevaluating her path and took a few community college courses, including one in cooking. That’s when everything clicked. “I began looking for schools to continue my culinary education,” she says. “A friend had recently graduated from the CIA at Greystone, and with her input and that from a few other alumni, I decided the CIA was the college for me.”
After studying culinary arts at Greystone, Ramona transferred to CIA’s New York campus to earn her CIA bachelor’s degree in applied food studies. She built a flow hive for an apiary project. She developed a pollinator plant program for the on-campus Teaching Garden. And she made connections with her professors that she is forever grateful for.
“The faculty truly is the most valuable aspect of the AFS program. Their hunger to create an ever-expanding curriculum and strive for better and greater things for students is endearing and admirable,” Ramona says. “Dr. Zhen, Dr. Murphy, Dr. Costura, and Dr. Forrest made my short time in the bachelor’s program fantastic by pushing us and believing in us so we could harness our true capabilities.”
Ramona’s professors also connected her to Good Food Jobs, which is where she discovered Masienda. In her position, Ramona supports and maintains the Masienda team’s connection to its restaurant clients, and coordinates the distribution and delivery of corn and beans. She also handles the distribution of online goods such as dried kernel corn, beans, jamaica (heirloom hibiscus), and fresh tortillas.
“I’m excited about working at Masienda, because it is a startup with boundless possibilities,” she says. “As we grow, more opportunities present themselves, and with our upcoming launch at Whole Foods, we are anticipating a great leap in our capabilities and size.”
And who knows where life will take Masienda and Ramona next? Whatever the next big adventure is, she’ll be ready for it.
Chef Ramona Nahapetian majored in applied food studies at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. She is the wholesale accounts manager, the online store and fulfillment manager, and bookkeeper at Masienda in California.