As I am sorting pictures and thinking about the weekend, one of the first things that struck me was the sheer thrill of being at the legendary Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. As a personal chef, I have been largely self taught, and coming late to my business in cooking, I missed the boat on attending a real program like the ones here. (Maybe after my kids are gone I’ll accomplish that dream!) And like many, I love to watch good cooking shows (those are few and far between these days), and to watch a chef in action is akin to my husband watching a great quarterback in the Superbowl. My friend and fellow personal chef, JoEllen Hockenbrough from Newport, RI, decided that a trip to the CIA for a real food lover is like a sports nut visiting the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH or the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. By the way, I have been to both of these places but neither was as exciting as my visit to the CIA!
This place is like “hallowed ground” in more ways than one. The campus used to be a Jesuit seminary purchased in 1970 by the school to expand their programs. It is a gorgeous place with incredible gardens and views of the Hudson River. These students are so lucky to be learning in such a beautiful place!
This is the main hall, Roth hall. It houses bakeries, classrooms, kitchens, the Craig Claiborne Gift Shop (can you believe I never got in there?!?!), the famed Escoffier restaurant and a banquet facility that is in what was once the church for the priests. We ate lunch there both days and it was a really beautiful setting. Interesting to see so much of the original church, including stained glass windows of our Lord and different saints looking down at us while we ate. With the vaulted ceilings and the beautiful old architecture it was an impressive experience (I’ll talk about the incredible food later!)Next door to Roth hall in Shunsuke Takaki School of Baking and Pastry was Chef Richard Coppedge’s bakery that was cleaned and prepped to be a safe gluten-free kitchen for his students to bake and prep in all weekend. Seeing all the student busy like bees in the bakeries and restaurants over the weekend was really fun. These kids (and a few older students too!) are committed to learning and creating the best food possible. Everything was picture perfect and no detail was left unnoticed. Very inspiring!
Just down the walkway was the Colavita Center for Italian Food and Wine, home of the Ristorante Caterina De’ Medici. Beautiful garden out front and there were tents and events happening here both days.
Wouldn’t you love to have a party there? It’s beautiful!!
And this is the Conrad Hilton Library which is where I spent most of my time at the CIA inside the Danny Kaye Theater Kitchen where the presenters cooked and taught all weekend.
This is just a quick tour of the beautiful campus where I spent the weekend. It was an incredible place that set the stage for the incredible meals we ate, the incredible chefs I met and worked with and the incredible amount of information I learned about gluten-free baking and cooking for my family and clients. If you’d like to see more of the CIA’s Hyde Park Campus, please visit their website to take their virtual tour!