Around this time, in 1975, the CIA figured prominently in a legendary Newsweek magazine cover story: “Food: The New Wave.” Paul Bocuse, outfitted in his kitchen whites, appeared on the cover, and the piece detailed the snowballing Nouvelle Cuisine movement as well as its ripple effect in the US – gourmet markets and cheese shops, kitchen-supply stores, hobbyist cooking classes, and an uptick in matriculation at vocational institutions such as the CIA. (When Rosenthal retired in 1974, the school was enrolling 1,300 students per year.)
The story emboldened countless young Americans who’d been pondering a career in the kitchen, but were hesitant due to the profession’s menial reputation. Current CIA President, Dr Tim Ryan, who matriculated that same year, recalls pointing any doubters to the article, signifying that a chef could become famous, maybe even end up on the cover of a major news magazine.
It seems quaint today; at the time, it was a sea change. Chefs, previously regarded as anonymous worker bees confined to the kitchen, were suddenly garnering international prestige and becoming celebrities in their own right. (Another type of chef was emerging on the West Coast of the US. In restaurants such as Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, launched in 1971, hobbyist cooks and food afficionados were flocking to professional kitchens, mostly without taking the step of attending a culinary school.)
It was also around this time that US labour laws were altered to categorise cooks not as ‘domestics,’ but as professionals, helping to remove the stigma of ‘unskilled labour.’ And, in 1976, with the fanfare surrounding the US’ bicentennial, a surging of national pride intersected with the burgeoning culinary scene for a renewed interest in American cuisine. The stage was set for the CIA to continue to evolve in ever more impactful and defining ways.