CIA, love at first sight!

Ah, the legendary Culinary Institute of America. “Harvard on the Hudson”, “The Culinary”, “CIA”, the “Institute”… By any name it is the school to go to if you want to be a really good chef. The graduates include some of the best and most well-known cooks in the country; even Paul Bocuse sent his son Jerome to attend the school. As I think I mentioned, my brother Vin Scully had graduated from the CIA in 1980. He then went on to complete a fellowship at the Ivy Award winning Escoffier Room Restaurant. As a graduate, Vin worked at Le Cote Basque and its sister restaurant La Lavandu in Manhattan. He was really living the life of a chef and I wanted some of what he had. In order to decide what to do next, I asked Vin to take me up to the school while I was in New Jersey for my sister’s wedding. So, up we went, driving through some of the prettiest country in New York State. It was early summer and the dramatic wisteria vines that creep across the school’s main entrance were in full bloom. Talk about an easy sell…
I walked into the building and immediately felt at home. Could be the Catholic thing; the CIA used to be a Jesuit Seminary (St. Andrew’s-on-Hudson). As a matter of fact one of the priests buried in the cemetery out back is a relative of ours. Whatever the reason, it was instantaneous- I needed to be there.
Vin took me down the hall to see the main dining room which used to be a big old church. It was awe-inspiring and filled with the hustle and bustle of students eating lunch. Throughout the building there were (are) kitchens literally behind every door. Vin knew most of the chefs, so it was a great experience. His favorite guys were Jim Heywood and Dieter Faulkner. Jim was (is) a wild chili making chef who never met a stranger. He showed me around his kitchen. The thing that stood out for me was that I didn’t speak his language or know any of the things he was showing me. I knew then that I had a lot to learn. I felt that if I could learn from someone as fun as Chef Jim Heywood, I would have fun and become a good cook to boot. Dieter was a lot more low key. He and Vin worked together at a restaurant in Carmel, NY and truly loved each other. The respect that Vin had (has) for Chef Faulkner was obvious. Chef Faulkner was the kind of fellow that gave compliments sparingly, but if you did get an atta boy, it was for something really very good indeed. We went on to see all the restaurants at the school and explored more kitchens. All in all it was the most excited I had been about anything in my adult life. I mean, here is a place devoted to food and the techniques involved. Here is a place with a chef around every corner, teaching basic cookery, fish cookery, bread baking, pastries, you name it. They even have mysterious subjects like Charcuterie and Garde Manger! I was captivated, enthralled. I had to go.

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Historic Biltmore Village
Asheville, NC 28803
(828) 274-2439
Open Daily
Brunch: 9:30 - 2:30
Dinner: 5pm until...

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