Chef's Blog

Becoming a Chef: The Pivot Point

One of my biggest inspirations in the culinary field is chef Alex Guarnaschelli. As a little girl growing up, I did not really see a lot of female chefs on tv, besides Rachael Ray. Watching Alex on Iron Chef really inspired me to go into the culinary field. Then a […]

Chef's Blog

Melina Hammer: Nature, Nurture, Nourishment

Like many of us, Melina Hammer came to New York City, blinded by the city of dreams’ lights, energy, and glamour. The former metal smith went to the city and carved out a place for herself in the publishing industry with grit and determination. When digital media was accelerating the […]

Chef's Blog

When Chefs Write

Grading student journals and project assignments isn’t a favorite pastime, but if you are the adjunct instructor of College Writing at The Culinary Institute of America, ya gotta. More correctly stated, I gotta. The semester usually starts with the same complaints: You want me to read HOW MANY PAGES? I […]

Chef's Blog

A Taste of Slovenia, a True Foodie Destination

Any country that is shaped like a running chicken must be a great destination for food enthusiasts. Slovenia, with a rich and complicated past—often in the shadow of powerful empires—along with its dramatically varied geography and climatic patterns, makes it a great study for food historians. My area of research […]

Chef's Blog

Spring Plant Foraging for Beginners

An herbalist friend of mine once told me that most people experience the natural world as a “wall of green.” It’s pretty, there are lots of different shades and textures, it makes us feel good, and we can appreciate our experience within it. But it is not until we start […]

Chef's Blog

The Chinese Pantry

It’s a fact that Americans love eating Chinese food. There are over 40,000 Chinese restaurants in the U.S.; there are more Chinese restaurants than McDonald’s. You can probably name a favorite Chinese restaurant and a dish or two you love. It is also a fact that many cooks feel intimidated […]

Chef's Blog

In Defense of Spam

Early in the semester, CIA students in my Food Writing course read “On Chicken Tenders,” by Helen Rosner, published in 2015 in Guernica. In this amusing but sincere defense of a derided, children’s menu staple, Rosner effectively argues against those who look down on ordering, eating, and celebrating the “perfect” […]

Chef's Blog

It’s Easy Being Green

If you are lucky enough to spend time on our Hyde Park, New York campus, you might see the occasional green chef’s coat winding its way through campus. That could just be me, on my way to work as chef-instructor in The Menus of Change Kitchen, where our motto is, […]

Chef's Blog

Three Sisters: If It Grows Together, It Goes Together

“If it grows together, it goes together.” This is the wisdom passed to me by my grandfather when we were harvesting squash, green beans, and tomatoes from his garden over 20 years ago (probably even 30 years ago, actually, but who’s counting!). He was referring to the idea that produce […]

Chef's Blog

The CIA’s New York Campus: Rich in Food and History

On normal days I meet with my students in classrooms or gardens. I’m a Professor in Applied Food Studies at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and my students are interested in sustainability and culture as well as cooking. We recreate historical recipes like Aztec amaranth cookies, […]

Chef's Blog

Adventures in Home Winemaking

Or, How Grapes From a World-Famous Vineyard Ended Up In My Garage When I tell people my husband and I are garage winemakers, the first thing they say is, “So you have a vineyard?” Well, no. We do live in Napa, but our backyard is tiny. There wasn’t even room […]