Taran Schiffer – Student Bio
“The thing I like the most about the CIA is the international community. I have friends from all parts of the world and they all bring something different to the table culinary-wise.”
Major: Associate Degree in Culinary Arts
Campus: Hyde Park, New York
Hometown: Berlin, Germany
How did you become interested in food?
My interest in food developed at a very early age because of my grandfather’s cooking. Every Christmas my family would meet up at his apartment for an extensive meal consisting of several courses of fine French cuisine. The unforgettable smell, the sound of copper pans, and the nonchalant way in which my grandfather created those deep flavors made me fall in love with food.
Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose the CIA because I determined it would be the best option to learn as much as possible in a very short time period. Being honest with myself, it was not something I thought about too much. I stumbled upon a German TV show which had an episode about it and it looked amazing. I always had keen interest in visiting the United States so I immediately applied. After being accepted I got my VISA, packed my stuff, and within 3 months I left my old life behind.
How have scholarships and/or grants helped you reach your goal of getting a CIA education?
Due to the limited amount of CIA scholarships or grants for international students, it has not helped too much up to date. But after finishing my second semester, I know I’ll have some opportunities which I will try to get ahold of.
What do you like best about the CIA?
The thing I like the most about the CIA is the international community. I have friends from all parts of the world and they all bring something different to the table culinary-wise. It is a lot of fun hanging out with them, cooking different styles and listening to musical influences which I would have never been exposed to without being here. I hope to travel these countries someday, picking up as much knowledge about their regional cuisine as possible.
Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I am enrolled in several clubs but the only one I was active in was the Latin American Club. We cooked some really good food and I have to say that as the time passes I am getting more and more fond of Latin American cuisine. If you never had a real taco like I did before coming here, I strongly suggest that you try one; it will not disappoint you.
What is your favorite dish to make?
My favorite dish to make is probably a Serbian bean-sausage stew. Although I personally have no favorite dish to make or eat—or cuisine in general—it is something I connect with a lot of good memories. It’s a dish that warms you from the inside to the outside, perfect for snowy days and to make you feel homey. I usually make it around New Year’s for all of my friends when we were outside all day, and we eat it together talking about the past year and what we expect of ourselves in the new one.
How has your CIA education prepared you for the business side of food?
My CIA education prepared me for the business side of the food industry by giving me an insight on how different kinds of people approached their climb toward success, whether it be a teacher or one of my leading role models.
What is the best lesson you’ve learned while at the CIA?
The best lesson I learned is probably patience toward other people. We are all still learning and all of us make stupid mistakes…and that is okay. It is important to not put your frustrations on others, but try to do your best and improve yourself.
What are your career goals and how will your CIA education help you get there?
My career goals are ever-changing. I want to travel and open up a restaurant but there is no set timeline or any detailed plans. I know that the CIA helped me by giving me a lot of interesting ideas on where to start, and so many great friends from different countries that I have a lot of different places I can travel to—and maybe even call home—for some time.
What advice would you give to a new student or someone who is considering attending the CIA?
My advice is to be open—to new people, and to different cuisines and cultures. Try to make the best out of your time. Sometimes you may feel bad about certain things, but you are in college! Enjoy yourself and make it a memory you want to look back on.