Swati Zunzunwala – Student Bio
“The CIA has helped me develop a strong work ethic. From finance to marketing to customer service, I believe every class at the CIA teaches you much more than just making food.”
Major: Associate Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts
Campus: Hyde Park, NY
Hometown: Hingoli, Maharashtra, India
How did you become interested in food?
A trained engineer with a bachelor’s in electronics engineering, I surprised everyone when I decided to pursue my passion for baking. Baking was always an integral part of me and I enjoyed baking with my mother back home. I would have to say my mother was my inspiration, but it was only after participating in a baking and pastry boot camp at a local bakery that I started thinking of turning my hobby into a career.
Do you already have a degree from another college or did you previously have a different career?
Yes, I have a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering.
What made you decide to change careers?
I worked as an engineer for six months and found I was not very satisfied. There was always something inside me longing for baking. So I quit that engineering job and started baking at home. I used to bake cakes at home and sell them. I got a very good response and from there I developed even more interest in baking. So I started looking for culinary schools to learn more. Baking gives me satisfaction and that motivated me to change my career.
Why did you choose the CIA?
Though I knew I wanted to be a chef, my knowledge and skill sets were limited. I was determined to get better at it, and I started looking for the best culinary schools in the world. That’s when I came across the CIA. The curriculum covers a range of topics related to the industry. The more I read about the CIA and its illustrious alumni, the clearer my choice became.
How have scholarships and/or grants helped you reach your goal of getting a CIA education?
I received the Global Scholar Award and the Alumni Referral Scholarship. This definitely contributed to getting my education at the CIA.
What do you like best about the CIA?
I appreciate the systematic approach the CIA takes to maintaining an organized and structured learning environment. Also, the curriculum is very intriguing and the best combination of theory with hands-on training from some of the leading names in the industry.
Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I was a member of the Plant-based Society. At the CIA, I had the opportunity to work with some great student clubs and it helped me develop as a chef in many intangible ways.
What is your favorite dish to make?
I like working with chocolates and cakes. Both are very intricate and require unique techniques, skills, and great attention to detail. I also like making bread. Like meditation, making bread relaxes my body and calms me. I call it “breaditation.”
How has your CIA education prepared you for the business side of food?
The CIA has helped me develop a strong work ethic. From finance to marketing to customer service, I believe every class at the CIA teaches you much more than just making food.
What is the best lesson you’ve learned while at the CIA?
The best lesson I learned at the CIA is to believe in yourself. It’s most important to be open to opportunities and challenges.
What are your career goals and how will your CIA education help you get there?
My goal is to start my own bakery in my home country. I believe that a degree from the CIA is universally recognized and will ensure a lot of opportunities back home. I would also like to take my experiences at the CIA and as a chef and pen it down in a book. I hope to inspire the next generation of chefs through my book. The CIA was the most important step in my journey that will take me through a lifetime of achievement.
What advice would you give to a new student or someone who is considering attending the CIA?
I would say be strong, both physically and mentally. The curriculum in this school is very fast-paced. For people who are interested in pursuing this career path and want to be the best in this profession, the CIA is the place you should be.