Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

A history of The Culinary Institute of America: 1986-2000

10 January, 2023
A history of The Culinary Institute of America: 1986-2000.
Thomas Keller currently holds seven Michelin stars, making him the most decorated chef in the United States. His Bay Area restaurant, The French Laundry, has held three Michelin stars since 2007, while its New York counterpart, Per Se, has held a further three stars since 2005.

Several CIA developments kept pace with these transformations. Not long prior, even the best American restaurants routinely purchased their desserts from outside vendors; now, the deepening sophistication of the dining public demanded dedicated pastry chefs whose offerings were as singular as what the savoury side of the menu offered. Accordingly, in 1990, the CIA opened a baking and pastry facility, eventually dubbing it the Shunsuke Takaki School of Baking and Pastry. And mirroring the increasing respect for the profession, both by its practitioners and the public, the CIA continued morphing into much more than a vocational school – becoming a complete college of higher education when the New York State Board of Regents approved the Institute to offer two Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) degrees, in either culinary arts management or baking and pastry arts management. The school also built the General Foods Nutrition Center to promote nutritional cooking, and the Conrad N. Hilton Library, second only to the Library of Congress in its culinary collection.

Perhaps the most powerful change agent in the culinary realm was the launch in 1993 of the TV Food Network, which has since been rebranded, simply, as Food Network. The cable television station provided a nightly showcase for chefs as experts, teachers, and entertainers. This is where Bobby Flay, Mary Sue Milliken, and Susan Feniger first rose to prominence, and where Emeril Lagasse began exclaiming, “Bam!” to a live studio audience. As a result, younger generations of kitchen aspirants had success stories to look up to and emulate, and they set their sights on the professional kitchen at an earlier age than many who had gone before them. Also adding to the promotion of the industry were high-profile awards and institutions such as Food + Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs program, and the James Beard Foundation Awards, both of which were hatched in the late '80s.

Befitting a seemingly boundless national enthusiasm for food and coast-to-coast opportunities for freshly minted graduates, the CIA introduced an additional location, launching The Culinary Institute of America Greystone in the Napa Valley town of St. Helena in the mid-1990s. Situated in the historic home of the Christian Brothers Winery, originally constructed in 1898 and formerly the world’s largest stone winery, the facility offered an opportunity to expand the school’s commitment to wine education, and build on the central place the state holds in the popularisation of American cuisine.

Initially limited to continuing education programs for foodservice professionals, the campus quickly grew to include associate degree programs and hobbyist cooking classes. The campus also features the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant, with a special focus on food and wine pairing, and would, in time, host the Worlds of Flavor® Conference & Festival, a signature CIA event that helped cement its status as an industry think-tank.

Meanwhile, the Hyde Park campus incorporated such amenities as basketball, tennis, and racquetball courts; a weights room; an indoor pool and track; a game room and lounge; a variety of fitness and athletic programs; and a café and pub. In 2001, Dr Ryan, who as a student had envisioned the facility’s potential, was named president of the CIA. Of the school as it was developing at the time, he says, “When people come who have never been here before, I always ask what they experienced. The thing they say consistently is, ‘We are shocked at how big it is; this is a [true] college campus.’” At the dawn of a new millennium, the school was yet again writing a new chapter.

A history of The Culinary Institute of America: 1976-86.

A history of The Culinary Institute of America: 1976-86

Next Article