April 17th, 2019

What Famous Alumni Say About the CIA


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Thinking about becoming a CIA student, and wondering what impact a CIA degree will have on your future? Well, there’s no one who better understands the CIA experience and its life-changing benefits better than our proud graduates. Here’s a sampling of what just a few famous CIA alumni had to say about their alma mater.

First impressions: Why they chose the CIA

“The most important thing Julia Child told me was that I must go to The Culinary Institute of America, because ‘It’s the Harvard of culinary schools.’ I applied the next day.”

Cat Cora ’95, chef, author, restaurateur, media personality, Iron Chef

“It was the only culinary school I looked at. I came up here with my parents and my Home Ec teacher and it was like chef heaven.”

Amanda Freitag ’89, chef, media personality, author

“I decided that I was going to go to the CIA. To me, there was no other option.”

Anne Burrell ’96, chef, media personality, author

“I really hit my stride when I got to the Hyde Park campus. I’d finally found ‘my people.’ It was hard but it was also fun and it felt right.”

Julia Collin Davison ’96, on-air co-host, America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country; executive editor, America’s Test Kitchen

Remembering: The CIA student experience

“I loved every single minute of being a student at the CIA.”

Anne Burrell ’96, chef, media personality, author

“I had an amazing experience when I was at the CIA. Each and every person was so supportive because not only was I new to the school, but I was also new to the country.”

Maneet Chauhan ’00, chef, restaurateur, media personality, author

“What I love about the CIA is the professors. Even the ones who have been teaching here for 25 or 30 years evolve with the times.”

Roy Choi ’98, food truck pioneer, author

Excellence: Skills, knowledge, and professionalism

“When I work with a CIA grad in my kitchen, I know I can give an order and it will be executed perfectly.”

Anne Burrell ’96, chef, media personality, author

“You can’t push boundaries without having a foundation. The CIA was critical in building that foundation and that fundamental understanding of food, the way it behaves, the way it comes together.”

Grant Achatz ’94, chef/owner, Alinea, Next, and Aviary; author

“My time at the CIA not only prepared me to enter the working world as a chef, but also helped me get mentally prepared for everything that has followed.”

Steve Ells ’90, founder and executive chairman, Chipotle Mexican Grill

“There have been so many instructors who have influenced my life and I always go back to the teachings that they have given whenever I find myself in a fix.”

Maneet Chauhan ’00, chef, restaurateur, media personality, author

“When a graduate comes from the CIA, I know their background; I know what they’ve been taught. They’re always a step ahead of things when they walk through the door.”

Charlie Palmer ’79, chef, restaurateur, hotelier

Going places: The CIA advantage

“When you leave here, you’ll have a piece of paper that says you are a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. That paper is a passport. With it, you can go anywhere, eat anywhere, and work anywhere.”

Duff Goldman ’98, media personality; owner, Charm City Cakes

“The truth is, you have to go to culinary school, you have to learn the basics. And if you want to go to culinary school, I say bar none, go to the CIA. It’s worth every single penny. It will be your ticket to anywhere you want to work.”

Kersti Bowser ’01, owner, Gourmet Butterfly Media & Special Events

“Being an entrepreneur is an integral part of becoming a chef. The business part of a restaurant is inseparable from your dreams of cooking, and the two must align. And having a degree from the CIA opens many doors for you, not only in the U.S., but everywhere around the world.”

Enrique Olvera ’99, chef/owner, Pujol in Mexico City and Cosme in New York City

“Over the years, I’ve realized, because I’ve done just about everything you could possibly do in the food industry, all of it is based on what I learned at the CIA.”

Sara Moulton ’77, chef, author, media personality

CIA Pride: The best culinary college

“What I think makes the CIA great is there’s no other place like it in the world. The quality of students coming out of the CIA really kind of sets the standard in the industry.”

Charlie Palmer ’79, chef, restaurateur, hotelier

“I’m grateful to the CIA for giving me my start and always giving me that integrity and that work ethic.”

Amanda Freitag ’89, chef, media personality, author

“To be at CIA, which is an incredible school, we’re being taught by the best of the best.”

Geoffrey Zakarian ’83, Iron Chef; restaurateur; media personality; culinary consultant

“The CIA is an institution that I’m very grateful for having attended. It was incredibly important to me. I had a good time here, and I’m grateful for all of the skills I learned and experiences I had.”

Anthony Bourdain ’78, chef, author, media personality

“I’m so proud to be a CIA alum, and quite frankly, I don’t think I would have the career I have now if it wasn’t for that CIA degree in my pocket.”

Julia Collin Davison ’96, on-air co-host, America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country; executive editor, America’s Test Kitchen

In closing: Words from two of the greats

And, finally, while they are not CIA alumni, two culinary legends also had something to say about The Culinary Institute of America.

“In practically every successful restaurant or hotel in this country I’ve been in, more often than not I’ve encountered a Culinary Institute of America graduate in a leadership position.”

Julia Child, teacher; author; culinary pacesetter; media personality; member, CIA Hall of Fame

“The first time I visited, I knew I had finally found a school that teaches the traditions of the world’s cuisines. It is the best culinary school in the world.”

Paul Bocuse, renowned French chef, CIA Chef of the Century

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Meet other CIA alumni and find out more about all of the exciting things they’re doing in the food world!