“You’ve found your niche…”
is what the card said. It was given to me by a family member upon my graduation. I had just received my Associates degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from the Culinary Institute of America and really, I had never thought of my love for food in that way before.
But she was right. I had found my niche. And it was in my blood.
The women in my Italian family have been great cooks for generations, starting with my Great Grandmother (Grandmom Pizza, we would call her). I’ve heard many stories about how she would stand at the counter making gnocchi or ravioli by hand. Trips to my Grandmother’s (Memom, as she is affectionately known) house would always be filled with food, from her homemade pizza (my dying meal, I swear), to the biscotti she would bring me every time she came to visit at college. When I was little, I would spend my afternoons at her house, rummaging through her cabinets and pulling out all of her pots and pans to make “magic soups” or “potions”. Honestly, it was the joy of creating whatever I wished from the ingredients in her fridge and pantry that thrilled me, even if it was just a mess of water and spices that nobody would ever want to eat!
As I got older, I would travel to my Aunt Mary’s house to help her with her many catering ventures. From making mini peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to please a finger-food-loving bride and groom, to decorating signs to put on the buffet, my interest in food grew and grew. Of course, my food-loving Mom was by my side the entire time, always supporting my many baking projects, spending endless hours watching the Food Network or David Tutera on WeTV, and teaching me different tips and tricks that she had picked up over the years.
So, it was no wonder that when my Grandmother offered to take me on a trip to the CIA, I was extremely interested. From that very first trip in eighth grade, I knew that this industry was where I wanted to be.
It amazes me how fast two years can go; especially since I remember anticipating the start of my CIA education so eagerly.
Despite the quick passing of my first two years at school, I have learned so much and met so many people. I am currently back at the CIA completing my BPS in Baking and Pastry Arts Management. I continue to seek any opportunity I can to get my hands on something in the kitchen, and I currently run a small wedding cake and dessert business.