October 23, 2018

The Top 10 Lessons I Learned Freshman Year at the CIA

top 10 lessons freshman year og image

So here’s my countdown of 10 important lessons I’ve learned so far as a student here at The Culinary Institute of America:


10. The second term practical is not as scary as it seems, and if you fail you can always try again. Listen to your chefs when they tell you it’s just soup and one entrée. They prepared you well, so trust them.


9. When a chef gives you feedback on a dish you made, it is not directed towards you personally. It’s only about the food. One bad critique will not destroy you.


8. Absorb as much information as you can, because the classes move quickly. I seriously can’t believe that my first year is already over.


7. Ask as many questions as you can. Even if your chef gets irritated, it is worth it. In my opinion, it is better to do it right the first time than to do it wrong because you didn’t ask.


6. Learn from your mistakes. It is the only way to improve.


5. Practice makes perfect. You will not become a celebrity overnight.


4. If you fail a class, it is not the end of the world. You are also not the first one to ever fail a class.


3. Being stressed only makes school harder. It’s OK to have fun! I used to walk into every class repeating, “Confidence is the name of the game.” Once I truly had confidence in my abilities—and myself—I didn’t need the mantra anymore.


2. The Tutoring Center can become your best friend if you let it. If you are struggling, there is no shame in asking for help. (Also, it seems that they never run out of potatoes…trust me on that.)


1. Coming in with no kitchen experience can seem like a disadvantage, but it is not. You only need to be better than you were yesterday.


Bonus lesson: Listen to your parents. They may know nothing about culinary school, but they are pretty smart and give great advice. Don’t be too stubborn, and take that advice no matter how much you do not want them to be right.


By Marisa Papell, Student Contributor | La Papillote