The Culinary Institute of America is a private college for the culinary and pastry arts with three campuses across the United States and one location in Singapore. The main campus is located in Hyde Park, NY- about two hours north of New York City.
On a recent trip up north, my Mother, Chad and myself took a drive to the CIA for lunch. The drive itself is gorgeous through the Palisade Mountains but the real treat was when we pulled into the small but majestic campus.
We went on a Monday, a day when three of the four student-run restaurants are closed. We had even tried to make reservations for one of the restaurants for the following day but the tables are booked months in advance. Just something to keep in mind when you plan your visit.
Lucky for us, the campus wasn’t too crowded with tourists the day we went and we only had a small wait for a table at the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe– a casual restaurant offering soups, salads, sandwiches and first class pastries.
After you place your order at the counter, you grab a table and your food and beverages are brought out by one of the many student employees. As a matter of fact, all four of the restaurants on campus are run by the students from the back of the house culinary staff to the front of the house managers and wait staff. And they are incredibly friendly and genuinely happy to be there.
My Mom enjoyed a Goat Cheese, Avocado and Watercress Sandwich. I stole a few bites and it was truly delectable. Something you may see again on the blog real soon!!
Chad had the Glazed Salmon Special with a pot of rice. Though the portion was small, the presentation was unique and the fish was cooked perfectly.
I ordered the Spinach and Fried Goat Cheese and Golden Beets Salad. First of all, anything with goat cheese is a big hit with me, the plump golden beets were an over the top bonus.
We also sprung for the Truffle Fries. Oh my.
We split the Pumpkin Cheesecake for dessert, tiny in dimensions but enormous in rich flavor.
Roth Hall is the most iconic building on the small campus and home to the four restaurants, many classrooms and the administrative offices. The halls are lined with many of the awards and trophies the school has won including numerous gold medals from the famed Culinary Olympics.
There are a few places you can peek into some of the classrooms. It was interesting to see many of the students hard at work. They all looked like Master Chefs to me!
Chef whites (the traditional Chef uniform) are worn everywhere so it was rather easy to pick out the students walking through the halls. The school offers many different programs from Associate to Bachelor degrees, from Pastry Arts to Culinary Science. There is also a comprehensive program for food enthusiasts such as myself from 2-day to 5-day boot camps (Christmas present idea my dear family!!) to Saturday morning cooking and baking classes, there is something for everyone.
My dream would be to spend five days soaking it all in while living in one of the “lodges”- mountain retreat style residence halls. With names like Ginger Lodge, Cayenne Lodge and Nutmeg Lodge- who wouldn’t want to spend a night or two (or five) there?
The campus itself is very rustic along the banks of the Hudson River. Food and the Culinary Arts are celebrated around every corner.
There is an on campus store as well offering both students and the general public a wide selection of professional culinary supplies and fun kitchen gadgets. We picked up a few things including this Dark Chocolate Quinoa candy bar.
We had a wonderful time exploring the campus, probably poking our heads where we shouldn’t have, marveling in all things food, and enjoying the beautiful fall scenery. Again, if you are interested in dining in one of the fancier sit down restaurants, plan your trip well in advance and make reservations early.
Also, anyone looking to invest in my culinary future (Mom? Chad?) or if you are looking to improve your own skills, visit the website for Food Enthusiasts here.