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The Leafy Green Machine

BY: Ethan Reynolds, AOS Culinary

Modern hydroponic farming is the practice of growing plants in nutrient-dense water instead of soil. This practice has been in existence since the early 20th century. It’s a true agricultural breakthrough, The idea of producing food in climate-controlled indoor facilities, with no need for soil, opens up a myriad of possibilities for farmers to improve efficiency and to grow any type of food at any time of year.

Commonly, hydroponic farming is organized in a greenhouse-like environment. Natural sunlight provides the plants with the ability to photosynthesize, and these plants are fortified by the nutrient-packed water that immerses their roots. Usually, these plants will be situated on large horizontal beds of water. The water itself is blocked from the sunlight to allow the plants access to light but prevent algal growth beneath the surface of the water.

Freight Farms is a company that has expounded upon this farming technology in a truly unique way. Their idea was this: create a self-contained vertical hydroponic system in a shipping container measuring 320 square feet. This shipping container holds nearly everything needed to produce 4,500 plants simultaneously, yielding the same amount of food as two acres of farmland. This is 270 times more space-efficient, a truly remarkable improvement. The portable farm was fondly dubbed the Leafy Green Machine. Though it can grow many kinds of plants including strawberries and sugar snap peas, these plants do not truly fit the design of the farm. It is best suited for growing leafy greens such as lettuce, herbs, and brassicas such as cabbage or kale.

The structure of the Leafy Green Machine is built around making the most of a tiny space. The incubation area, where plants are grown from seed to sproutling, is housed underneath a functional work table which can be used to organize and pack the mature plants. Instead of a horizontal growing system, the crops are grown vertically, then each mature seedling is placed into a slot on a hollow tower. The roots are fed by a flow of specially enhanced water that flows within the tower, from top to bottom. There are many of these towers in the shipping container, and each is set on a rolling track so that they may be moved towards the work table when it comes time to harvest. The plants will then grow out from the towers instead of up from the ground, which allows much more to be planted in a tiny space.

The farm is almost completely automated. The walls are insulated and the climate is computer-controlled, and the plants are “fed” by red and blue LED lights which turn on and off to regulate photosynthesis as the system determines. Furthermore,  the enhanced water is recycled throughout the system. With this system, the farm needs less than five gallons of water to function for an entire day. Sensors within the farm measure the properties of the environment, and these measurements are used to adjust the climate as needed. The entire system can be controlled via an app, which makes it a practically hands-off operation. The farm needs only about 15-20 hours of labor per week to stay running, which is significantly lower than many farmers today. The isolated nature of the shipping container makes it so that pests are hardly an issue; therefore, pesticides do not need to be used. This makes it far more feasible to grow organically.

Due to the climate-controlled nature of the farming environment, the Leafy Green Machine can grow crops in virtually any part of the world and at any time of year. Each farm sells for the comparatively reasonable price of $85,000, with an added yearly cost of $13,000 in upkeep and supplies. This price point makes it practical for entrepreneurs to buy, and build a business around, one or more of these farms.

A small business owner and Vietnam War veteran by the name of Jerry Martin started a farm aptly named Vet Veggies in Springdale, Arkansas. The company serves as an example and an encouragement for recent veterans to rejoin the workforce in the hydroponic farming industry. Vet Veggies grows butter head lettuce,= which is distributed to several local grocery chains.

In urban East Boston, a couple formed a business around four Leafy Green Machines. Corner Stalk Farm brings forth produce that the couple then sells at their well-loved neighborhood retail shop, Boston Public Market. By building a farm in such an urban environment, they provide their customers with truly locally grown, fresh produce while simultaneously improving their community.

Hydroponics have been at the forefront of the agricultural zeitgeist for some time now, so it’s only a matter of course that the innovative minds of this millennium would apply themselves to revealing the extent of possibilities that exist in soil-less farming. If Freight Farms continues to gain traction as a company, the reach of hydroponic farms can only grow wider and  fresh food could be grown in unfarmable sections of the world, feeding scientists in Antarctica or underprivileged children in the deserts of Kenya.

 

 

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Chowder Cook Off 2017

BY: Deja Burrows, BBA Food Business Management

If you were to enter the gymnasium at the Culinary Institute of America on March 12th, you would have been enveloped in the smooth sounds of the live band and salty air smell of simmering clams. Fourteen teams were selected to be a part of the CIA’s 16th Annual Chowder Cook Off, with food preparations starting the day before and decorations being carefully crafted from weeks before the event. The competition included two components – the first being the judged competition with a panel of judges that each team presented with hot bowls of ungarnished chowders for critique. Fellow students and other members of the CIA family were invited to help in judging for the People’s Choice award. A ballot holding fourteen boxes – one for each team – was given out and each ballot was stamped upon approaching the booth and sampling the chowder. Each guest could vote for the chowder they liked best. Every stamp on their voter’s card counting as a point.

With themes as varied as prison lunch style chowder to Finding Dory, costumes and decorations filled the room with color and style. SPICE even gave the guests themselves a chance to dress up with a “decorate your own sailor hat” table, including shells and fabric paint. So, with voter cards in hand and sailor hats on their  heads, guests set out to try the carefully crafted chowders. Each chowder had its own signature style. Some included seafood rather than clams; crawfish, shrimp and even cod roe made an appearance while others included classic ingredients such potatoes,  corn, and bacon for a smoky finish. Though the creamy cups of steaming chowder were delicious on their own, the garnishes put them over the top. Such additions included freshly-baked, moist, crab shaped corn biscuits, crisp potato sticks, and charred corn. After sampling as many cups of chowder as one could handle and dropping their ballots into the bucket of the team whose chowder they liked the best, guests gathered around to witness the great oyster shucking and eating contest. With contestants signing up earlier in the day, they were organized into three separate rounds. Each person was given a platter of ten oysters with a cutting board, towel and oyster shucker. After being prompted to start, each contestant began prying open and flipping over each of their oysters as quickly as possible until the victor dropped his shucker and shot his arms up in pride. The winner from each of the three rounds then returned for a face off, with techniques being displayed such as the use of a glove to allow in-hand shucking and bending to be at table height. The last round ended in a tie with two contestants finishing too close for a clear winner to be decided upon. This then led to a five oyster shuck off to reveal the true winner. The festivities didn’t end there; something had to be done with all those shucked oysters, so three rounds of brave contestants lined off to slurp down oysters with a concoction of cocktail and hot sauces that made some turn bright red. While both competitions excited the guests, all ballots – including the judges and the common people – were being tallied in the background. The humming of the mechanical shark was soon ceased, the bands equipment were packed away, and all contestants gathered in the middle of the carpeted gym anxiously awaiting the big reveal. In addition to first second and third place, other categories included: people ‘s choice, showmanship (based on the ascetic of their booths and costumes) and professionalism based on timeliness of ordering, cleanliness and overall attitude throughout the competition. After weeks of making decorations, two days of food preparation and full day of cooking and greeting the Chowder Cook Off Winners were finally revealed to be:                                                       

Professionalism Award – Finding Flounder ( Team 3)                                                                              

                                                              Showmanship Award-Crusty Clam ( Team 14)

                                                              People’s Choice- Star Anise ( Team 2)

                                                              3rd Place Overall-Straight out of Clamton ( Team 8)

                                                              2nd Place Overall-  Bivalve & The Crawdaddies ( Team 11)

                                                              1st Place Overall – Just Keep Swimming ( Team 1 )

It’s  clear to see the 16th Annual Chowder Cook-off was an exciting time for both the competitors  and guests. Congratulations to all the teams that participated, and especially to those who placed. Next year, don’t be afraid to submit your own recipe or come and have a fun time at the CIA’s Annual Chowder Cook Off.   

 

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(Don’t) Fear the Critic   

BY: Amanda Lamperti AOS Culinary

Food writer turned restaurant critic Pete Wells of the New York Times earned his respect from people both heavily involved in the New York City food world as well as followers of his work throughout the country. Readers of the Times often resort to Wells as the go-to guru of all things to know in the NYC food scene when searching for the right restaurant to make reservations for a Saturday night dinner. The attraction to these artfully crafted words of wisdom published weekly from Wells can come from the curiosity of seeing which restaurants are rising above the rest, and it is arguable that some readers simply wish to have their appetite satiated by his raw display of sarcasm. Nevertheless,  it is agreed that Wells holds the talent of “telling it like it is” while keeping his reviews both constructive for the restaurant and entertaining for the readers – and people love it. This is not something that is easy to do, which is why Wells is the perfect guy for the job. Chefs are intimidated by him, restauranteurs try too hard to please him, and waiters run the other way when they see him sitting in the dining room. But why? He is just an average guy with a normal opinion, but has the power to use that opinion to make or break a restaurant. So yes, he kind of is a big deal, but  the way people who are affected by food critics in general view them as tyrannical, aggressive, and just plain mean. This one person can put a lot of stress on a lot of people, but if these people took the time to understand the logic of Pete Wells and others in the business, they might change their minds.

To start off, Mr. Wells is strictly a writer; and a fair one at that. In a recent phone interview with La Papillote he explains, “I got into this to write. I started off as a writer, then the food kind of came later.” Wells worked his way up in the columns of the New York Times and started to write about food, which obviously fared well for him.  He now has what any student at the CIA would consider a dream job, eating his way through NYC, all on someone else’s dime. He goes into restaurants as a reporter and writes about his experience, with no favoritism or other opinions in his head. He continues saying, “I think people imagine that a food critic is supposed to be sitting there looking for faults, and you do see them, but what you’re really trying to do is experience the restaurant. Whatever experience they’re offering, you’re trying to have it.” No pre-judgements, no early predicaments on his part. “I don’t read other people’s reviews. I don’t even read that much of the publicity, or sort of pre-opening criticism. Sometimes I go into these places knowing nothing.” Going into each and every restaurant with a clean slate and open mind means that anything can either charm Wells into writing a blissful article of praise or a rather bitter review full of more sarcasm than usual.

And as far as Wells’ relationships with the chefs, no bribery or favoritism is allowed. When he writes an article that does not go over so well with the chefs, he stays calm to explain the backlash he receives from his merely honest report of their restaurant. Wells says, “There aren’t many chefs in New York City who I would consider a ‘buddy’… Sometimes chefs will write back whether it is a good review or a bad review. The worst that will happen to me is that chefs will lash out at me in public, but that’s really rare. But I don’t mind if they do that. [One restauranteur wrote to me] saying that I shouldn’t be doing my job and the Times was making a mistake by employing me.” Chefs will be some of the most fiery and passionate people you will ever meet, and Wells’ calm personality and ‘cut to the chase’ take on his influential job is a balancing act in the restaurant industry. He proves to be the less selfish and attention-focused partner in this duo of food critics and the emotional chefs of New York City. But what irritates Wells are the self-centered chefs that use the dining room as a stage and the guests an audience to fuel their ego. “There are these restaurants where the chef is taking himself or herself so seriously and they forget that people aren’t just sitting there to applaud you all night. They want the show to be all about them, and it shouldn’t be that way.”

But no matter what the cuisine, starred ranking, or generalized fame a restaurant holds that Wells is reviewing, he extends that the most important factor is that they deliver what they promise to their guests. Wells reviewed Senor Frogs, a not so high-class restaurant- chain bar located near Times Square and they received a great review… and they do not even have a chef to run the place. How in the world did that happen? According to Wells, his logic on judging these two extremes is quite simple. “A lot of it has to do with what the restaurant is promising you and what they deliver. Senor Frogs wasn’t really promising that much on the storefront, you know.” Wells laughs. “It wasn’t saying it was this new interpretation of, I don’t even know what it would be, Spring Break Cuisine? They were promising the drinks would be large, and they were. And that there would be wild, weird entertainment, and there was. For what they set out to do, they did it.”

When recalling the fame Per Se’s article retained, he says “I knew it was going to be talked about a lot in the restaurant business and at your school. People who are following the industry were going to be intensely interested in that. But what I did not know was that it was going to be read by so many people who don’t really follow restaurants and had no intention of eating at Per Se. It took off in this scale that I wasn’t predicting.” When discussing the remarks of his reviews in general, he says, “It’s nice to be read. I don’t really enjoy a backlash at all. When it’s a negative review, it makes me a little bit uncomfortable when people are cheering. It’s negative, but it’s not being cheered at the restaurant, for sure. In the restaurant, I see people’s faces where I don’t want to see people laughing at them. And I write to make people laugh, so go figure.”

So if there is one thing that must be done to impress Pete Wells, it is complete honesty and sense of realness in every aspect of the restaurant. That does not sound so mean coming from someone dubbed “America’s most dangerous restaurant critic.” To further his defense, when asked whether Wells preferred to construct his insults while writing his articles or if they were spur of the moment during his meal, he could not quite decide. “Sometimes there are things I think while I am eating, sometimes it’s things I think of when I’m sitting down taking my notes. It’s kind of better if it happens at the spur of the moment. It’s fresher, and it could be more accurate.

And do not think that Wells enjoys special treatment because of his title. The need to ensure everything for Mr. Wells is absolutely perfect at all times is unrealistic, and he is certainly aware of it. “There is refilling the water glass at the table every time someone takes a sip. They just must not realize how irritating that is. It’s distracting; every time you pick up your water glass, it doesn’t need to be refilled if it’s just gone down one eighth of an inch. But [as a reporter] you also have to pay attention to how everyone else is eating. Just looking around the room, how other tables are being treated.”

Wells finishes off by saying, “I’m not writing them a report card. I’m not writing them to give them a sense of how to improve their business. I’m really writing for the reader.” Nothing that Wells says is meant by any tyrannical, aggressive, or just plain mean things people assume are his intentions. He laughs, saying, “Well, there’s the job and then there’s the person. And it’s never been personal for me, and I think it’s hard sometimes for chefs to realize that. It’s personal for them.”

 

March Career Fair

BY: Timothy Slavin, AOS Culinary

The CIA’s Spring Career Fair got off to a frigid start, but nonetheless was another incredible opportunity for networking with leading companies spanning the globe. Despite the two day delay to the event, over 100 restaurants, hotels, country clubs, and many other hospitality related properties were on campus to recruit CIA students. Companies such as Hyatt, Four Seasons, The Little Nell, The French Laundry, Blue Hill, and many others were here to talk with students. Whether you are looking for an externship, a stage, or a job after graduation, there were many interesting companies to speak with. I had the opportunity to interview a couple of the companies represented and ask why they invest so many resources in recruiting students from the CIA.

The first person I interviewed was Jessica Woodson from Bonura Hospitality Group. Bonura has many businesses located in the Hudson Valley region such as Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor, NY, Shadows on the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, NY, and Blu Pointe in Newburgh, NY. “We’ve been coming to the CIA for 5 years because of the quality of the students here,” Jessica says. Because of the proximity of their concepts to the CIA campus, it makes perfect sense for Bonura to focus on recruiting from the school. One of the people representing Bonura in addition to Jessica was John Chamorro, a CIA graduate. “I met John at a CIA career fair and he ended up working for us after school. He is now the Wine Director for Blue Pointe.” It was inspiring to see the type of impact that a graduate from CIA can have so immediately upon a company.

Tami Stephan from Omega Institute for Holistic Studies was also on campus interviewing students for externships and jobs. Omega is a holistic retreat located in Rhinebeck that focus on healthy, sustainable eating, meditation, yoga, and other holistic studies. They have several CIA alumni that have worked for them, including their previous two chefs. When I asked Tami what sets apart students from the CIA versus students from other schools or employees lacking in formal training, she said, “The professionalism that the students display sets them apart. They care about what sustainability and what we are doing. They are real go-getters.” These, among other qualities, are what has brought Omega to CIA’s career fairs for the last four years.

Maybe you aren’t ready to start looking for an externship or job post-graduation, but it is always a great idea to network and talk to recruiters at the career fair. Many of them have stood where you are, and can answer any questions you might have about life after CIA, and what kind of career path you might take. If you missed this one, the next career fair is scheduled for June 5th. Dress nice, bring resumes, and dream big!

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Historic women of the cia

BY: April Johnson, AOS Culinary

March is National Women’s History Month, where we take the time to remember the great women who have changed the world for the better.  Two of these women are Frances Roth and Katharine Angell, two powerhouse women who founded a school in New Haven, Connecticut that over the years would grow to become one of the best culinary schools in the nation.

Frances Roth was born in April of 1896. When she was 17, she attended law school at New York University. In 1925, Roth became the first female to pass the bar exam and be admitted to the Connecticut Bar Association. From 1925 to 1941 Frances served as the Assistant City Attorney in New Haven. In 1944, Roth’s daughter Norma also passed the bar exam, making them the first mother- daughter members of the Connecticut Bar Association. I had the opportunity to interview Nicole Semenchuk, the Archives and Digital Collections Specialist at the Hyde Park Campus. Semenchuk said, “She had everything going against her.  She was a single mother after her divorce, and just the time period she lived in was harder for her accomplish things with the way women were viewed at the time… she was very smart and capable.” In 1945, the New Haven Restaurant Association sought out Frances Roth to head up a culinary school in New Haven, and Roth accepted.

Katharine Angell was born in 1890 in Charlotte, North Carolina. She graduated from Queens College in Charlette and from 1910 to 1911 she attended Finch School in New York City. Katharine had six children with her first husband Paul Woodman who died in 1930. Katharine married James Rowland Angell, the president of Yale, in 1932. Semenchuk describes Angell as, “the social outgoing, funny hostess, who was more so the fundraiser for the school and was a huge part of the community.” In 1946 her and Frances Roth founded the New Haven Culinary Institute, which would become the Culinary Institute of America.

Frances Roth served as administrative director from 1946 to 1966. Semenchuk said that the role of administrative director is similar to the role of president. Angell served on the Board of Trustees as president and chairman from 1946 to 1966. Roth and Angell worked hard to make their culinary school run effectively and provide returning war veterans the proper skill set to get a job in the restaurant industry. Angell created the school’s first financial aid program, as well as helped start a culinary reference library for the students of the New Haven Culinary Institute. Due to the heavy promotion of the school from Angell and Roth and the concurrent attention the school recieved, the name of the New Haven Culinary Institute was soon changed to the Culinary Institute of America.  The school gained many students; only five years both women retired, the school moved its location to the current Hyde Park campus.

Katharine Angell described the goal of the CIA as, “to train young men and women to become expert cooks and chefs.” What many people do not realize is that our school had female students from the day it started. Nicole Semenchuk said, “There was at least one woman in every class, and there were two classes a year. The program was different back then; the program was nine months to a year.” There have always been women students at the CIA, even though women were outnumbered by men, since the school was founded to help returning World War II veterans attain stable jobs. Semenchuk also pointed out that there were female teachers at the CIA from the beginning too, except they taught academic classes like nutrition while there were only male chefs teaching cooking classes. Even Frances Roth would teach some academic classes that dealt with law.

Katharine Angell and Frances Roth were two powerhouse women who didn’t know at the time that the school they founded would completely change the restaurant industry. Over time, a baking program was started, and with all the attention the school received for providing such well-trained students, the restaurant industry was looked on with more prestige than before. Semenchuk described the work Roth and Angell did as, “leaving a culinary foot print.”

It is amazing to think of how far our school has come since its founding in 1946. We went from having once campus with one female per start date, to having four campuses and 16 different start dates at our Hyde Park Campus, For the first time, we have more  female students enrolled than males.  Our school has come a long way since its founding, but it would not be what it is today without the hard work and dedication of Frances Roth and Katharine Angell.

 

photo courtesy of Leslie Jennings

AOS Graduation Speaker

Bryce SHuman

BY: Shelly Loveland, Staff Contributor

Former Executive Chef of Betony

 

Chef Bryce Shuman has made a career of leading and working in some of the country’s top restaurant kitchens to great industry acclaim. 

Originally from Chapel Hill, NC, Chef Shuman was introduced to the restaurant world as a dishwasher at Mesh Café in Greenville, NC. He quickly fell in love with the kitchen and moved up through the ranks to become the restaurant’s chef de cuisine before moving to San Francisco in 2002 to hone his culinary skills. Working first for Wolfgang Puck at Postrio and then for Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski at Rubicon, Chef Shuman learned the importance of cooking with the finest ingredients and always from the heart. He also earned his degree from the California Culinary Academy while working nights at Postrio.

Returning to the East Coast, Chef Shuman joined Daniel Humm’s team at Eleven Madison Park in New York City in 2007. During his six years as sous chef and executive sous chef for the restaurant, Eleven Madison Park garnered four stars from The New York Times, three Michelin stars, and a top 5 placement on the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants listing.

In 2013, Chef Shuman was hired as executive chef along with Eamon Rockey ’06 as maître d’ to transform the former Brasserie Pushkin into a new venue. The result was the sophisticated, fine-dining Betony, which opened later that year. Under Chef Shuman’s leadership, Betony soon earned three stars from The New York Times, one Michelin star, Restaurant of the Year honors from Esquire magazine, and a Best New Restaurant nomination from the James Beard Foundation. In 2015, he was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef and recognized as one of New York City’s Rising Star Chefs by StarChefs.com.

Active in his community and industry, Bryce Shuman is a supporter of Careers Through Culinary Arts (C-CAP), No Kid Hungry, and Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. He has leant his talents as a judge at the New York City Cochon 555 competition, served as a guest instructor at Macy’s DeGustibus Cooking School, and cooked at the James Beard House and several food and wine festivals. In 2010, Chef Shuman competed in a season 5 episode of the Food Network’s Chopped.

 

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Pro Tips for National Nutrition Month

 

 

BY: Francesca Zani, AOS Culinary

 

March is National Nutrition Month.  It is very difficult to focus on diets and healthy eating habits when life is constantly moving. Most people know what basic nutrition entails; fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, dairy, and plenty of water. Physical therapist Dr. Justin Feldman, offers his patients advice on how to control nutrition in situations where physical health is concerned. Dr. Feldman is one of the Hudson Valley’s most popular physical therapists. He has offices located in Lagrange and Fishkill, and continues to use a number of techniques to help heal his patients. Feldman graduated from Ithaca College and then went on to further his work in the field. Throughout his career, he often came upon misleading information about nutrition and wanted to know the true facts. After taking online classes, Dr. Feldman received certification as a nutrition coach through Precision Nutrition. The program gave him the expertise to educate his patients in sports nutrition, without having to become a dietitian. He works with five to seven patients each day, seeing them once per week for an hour as opposed to two or three times weekly. Many of his patients are between the ages of twenty and sixty – “the weekend athletes”. His client programs are focused on manual therapy, nutrition and exercise.

Just a quick reminder of the basic nutritional guidelines we must follow daily according to the My Plate government guidelines;  two to three cups of vegetables, one to two cups of fruit, five to six ounces of protein, three cups of dairy, five to eight ounces of grains. These serving sizes may slightly change depending on the age group. Along with proper nutrition, we must drink plenty of water per day, which is challenging for many. “The nutrition each patient needs will help speed up their recovery,” notes Feldman. He spoke of athletes who get injured, avoid activity for weeks, gain weight, and have a difficult time getting back into their routine once recovered due to lack of nutrition. Active or not, this idea reveals how important it is to stay in tune with a nutritious diet.

Dr. Feldman noted that inflammatory foods can and will slow down the progression to healing. According to a Harvard Health Publication, examples of inflammatory foods include refined white flour, sugar products, fried foods, sodas and drinks with added sugar, processed meat and cheeses, and margarine. “What we should consume more of,” adds Dr. Feldman, “are avocados, fish oil, olive oil, tart cherry juice, beets, and turmeric, which decrease inflammation.”  During our interview, I asked Dr. Feldman if he had any healthy protein shake recipes. I discovered Feldman is not an advocate for powdered protein shakes and would rather see patients eating locally sourced food, whole fruits, and veggies. While clients are rehabilitating he offers them a challenge – “Try to go as many days in a row where you consume fourteen fruits and vegetables.” This is a health effort we all should seek in our lives!

Dr. Justin Feldman has many years of practice in sports therapy and nutrition. If you are interested in finding a center for physical therapy, he is the person you should consider visiting.

 

                                     

West Coast Living at Greystone

CIA in California

BY: Mike Feist, BBA Food Business Management

Some people get lucky. If you can find a way to live somewhere unique for a year or two, don’t say no. I decided to spend my two AOS years out at Greystone, in California’s Napa Valley.

The California CIA campus is in northern California, about 60 miles from San Francisco. There are enormous mountains, deserts, volcanoes and hot springs, vast tundras, and awesome beaches all over the state. And being outdoors is perfect almost anytime and anywhere: most areas never drop below forty degrees, it never gets humid, mosquitoes are very rare, and it hardly even rains. Most days year-round are sunny and stay around 70 degrees. I found opportunities to go backpacking, canoeing, whitewater rafting, snow caving, and skiing, and I could camp out under a single tarp most nights without a problem.

The town of St. Helena (officially a city, though a tiny one) hosts two other small college campuses. It has a small permanent population and relies almost entirely on tourism. You can find excellent high-end restaurants, boutiques, and gourmet shops like Woodhouse Chocolates. Their boxed chocolates have been rated the best in the US, according to Consumer Reports. St. Helena is also a town away from the French Laundry and near famous wineries like Robert Mondavi’s, Peter Mondavi’s Charles Krug, Stag’s Leap, Francis Ford Coppola’s, and Opus One. The area draws millions of tourists from far away for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel. So if you love food, wine, or desserts, you’ll be in heaven, but there are fewer attractions that concern art, history, or science. It’s not like New York where you can find three museums on the same block. People in the Napa Valley are looking more to relax, enjoy the outdoors, and have a good time.

In St. Helena, it’s hard to find cheap food, and it’s hard to find things to do without spending a lot of money. So my friends and I, broke college students, had little to do there. My friends and I still have nothing to do in Hyde Park, but instead because we’re in the middle of nowhere. San Francisco and Sacramento are very far away from the California campus, and they surprisingly don’t offer as much as I initially thought. However, find a way to visit San Jose, Palo Alto, and Berkeley; there’s so much more there, and you’d definitely not regret going up to Portland and Seattle either. Public transportation can be tricky. It’s not nearly as convenient as Metro-North or the New York City subway, but it is much easier than the public transit in Dutchess.

Greystone’s campus is very small. It’s mostly all within one building, which is about ¾ the size of Roth Hall by square footage. Greystone’s unique in that on the top floor there’s the hot side and the cold side, separated by our only cafeteria. So there’s only one bakeshop (the cold side) and one main kitchen for culinary arts. There’s another kitchen on the first floor for use by one or two classes at a time, but the main one gets the bulk of the school’s use, and up four to five classes or groups can use that space at once. And I should mention it was designed fully open – no walls between the three sections – so you can see from the end of the bakeshop to the end of the kitchen, and glass walls that continue behind the kitchen allow you to see two-thirds of the building’s top floor from any spot.

Another potentially big difference is with carts and reqs. I’m not sure how the requisition system works in Roth Hall, but at Greystone we had to go to a corner of the building every day, check over every item if Purchasing had pre-assembled our cart, or help build our own if they were behind. We’d have to wheel it across back passages through the entire building, unless the elevator didn’t work (which was often). In that case we’d have to wheel all the food across the entrance hall of the building. Luckily it was usually early in the morning, so we didn’t have to find a way past the tourist crowds that show up later in the day. There also was never a specific place designated for carts and speed racks, you sometimes had to search the entire building to find one. Dealing with these problems every day helped us learn to adapt quickly in future situations.

Greystone also only has one restaurant for AOS students. Your schedule is therefore even more fixed than AOS students have it over here, but luckily our restaurant was a lot of fun. It was called the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant, a mouthful when trying to greet guests over the phone or at the door. Yet the front- and back-of-house instructors were probably the most helpful and nicest of all that I had. The food we served was delicious, and I was just as proud to cook it as I was to serve it. Our wines were fantastic, as were the cocktails. The whole system was the cleanest and one of the best-organized restaurants I’ve worked in, even though we started out with little front-of-house experience. By the end, we were all part of a fantastic machine we were proud of. Among the random things that I heard Hyde Park kids do differently in the restaurants and out are: not flipping cutting boards for new tasks (oops), actually peeling celery and asparagus, and washing pots and pans by hand! I was sad when I found out that with Greystone’s new satellite campus, the restaurant is being removed. AOS students will now use the restaurant formerly run by the BPS Farm to Table semester-away students, now called the Gatehouse Restaurant.

As I was leaving Greystone last spring, the CIA had bought and was renovating Copia, formerly a huge nonprofit museum entirely dedicated to food, wine, and all forms of culinary arts. I so wish I was around to see this enormous facility in its prime – complete with art, history, and science exhibits, massive theaters, demo kitchens, a rare book library, wine tasting rooms, and a cafe and restaurant. As a lover of food, wine, and culture, I would’ve spent all my time there. I managed to visit the empty space a few times, at first without even knowing it! Like most other Greystone students, I thought “what’s Copia?” when I first heard of the school’s purchase. I had been to the nearby food hall and farmers’ market, literally feet away from the building, and didn’t even know about Copia. A while later, I familiarized myself with the whole building, including its gardens and shaded paths, the reflecting ponds, and beautifully modern architecture. I’m looking forward to going back now that its long-empty halls are finally full.

As I was beginning my AOS, I realized Greystone is a bit more like an institution, not a university. So if you’re an older or a more mature student, it may be a good choice. You may even prefer it – come in, take serious classes, and leave. Clubs are few in number and disorganized, given Greystone’s lack of a four-year program. School trips and events are less common with a smaller student body, and there’s no on-campus gym, pool, or club rooms. The library is maybe half the size of the gift shop here and permanently shares its space with the learning strategies center. And because the campus’ only cafeteria requires business casual or chef whites and doesn’t include comfortable chairs or places for laptops, it lacks a university dining hall’s convenience and charm. There’s still a community feel to the campus because of its small size. My classmates and I felt Greystone was like a family.

I hope that the above ideas will help you and inspire you, whether you’re considering vacationing in the Napa Valley or spending a semester at our Napa Valley campus. Trust me,  you’ll be glad you did!

Nicholas Elmi

photo courtesy of Leslie Jennings

AOS Graduation speaker

March 3, 2017

Nicholas Elmi

by Shelly Loveland, Staff Contributor

Chef/Owner Restaurant Laurel and ITV

Nicholas Elmi is the chef/owner of Restaurant Laurel and ITV (In the Valley) Wine and Cocktail Bar in Philadelphia, PA. Chef Elmi and the staff of Laurel focus on French-inspired American cuisine with a nod to regional tradition and contemporary flavors. A 22-seat gem that delights critics and neighbors alike, Laurel is located on a small street in South Philly known as East Passyunk Avenue, named one of the “Ten Best Foodie Streets in America” by Food & Wine. ITV, located right next door, reflects Restaurant Laurel’s intimate vibe. Chef Elmi’s latest concept is Baba Bar, a Mediterranean bar and grill that will be located in Terminal B in Philadelphia International Airport.

Since opening in November 2013, Laurel has garnered national attention in a short amount of time. It has consistently been named near or at the top of Philadelphia magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants and also earned a spot on GQ’s 25 Most Outstanding Restaurants of 2015. Laurel was also awarded four bells (the highest rating possible) from award-winning critic Craig Laban of The Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as three and a half stars from Trey Popp of Philadelphia. The James Beard Foundation named Laurel a semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant in 2014 and Chef Elmi a semi-finalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2017 and 2015.

A native of West Newbury, MA, Nicholas Elmi is a 2002 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. Before opening Laurel, he worked in some of the top restaurants on the East Coast and the world, including Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia, Union Pacific and Oceana in New York City, and Guy Savoy in Paris, France. In 2013, Chef Elmi won season 11 of Bravo’s Top Chef, beating out 18 competitors for the top spot.

Active in the industry and community, Chef Elmi has served as a guest chef at the James Beard House, was a guest instructor at DeGustibus at Macy’s in New York City, and participated in the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival in 2015 and the New York City Wine & Food Festival in 2016. He also appeared with Chef Carla Hall in a webisode for students by Scholastic called “Math@Work: Math Meets Culinary Arts,” designed to connect classroom learning to careers. Chef Elmi is a supporter of many worthy organizations, including the March of Dimes, The Parkinson Council, and the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

 

GRaduation Photos

 

Michael McGrath

photo courtesy of Leslie Jennings

Aos Graduation Speaker

February 10, 2017

Michael McGrath

Chief Executive Officer: Newman’s Own

by Shelly Loveland, Staff Contributor

Michael McGrath is the chief executive officer (CEO) for Newman’s Own, Inc. In this position, he is responsible for managing the food and beverage company’s business in the United States and internationally, as well as leading new product development and market expansion. Mr. McGrath also serves as a member of the Newman’s Own, Inc. Board of Directors.

There are currently more than 300 items in the Newman’s Own product line of great-tasting, high-quality, and organic foods, including salad dressings, pasta sauces, frozen pizza, salsa, frozen skillet meals, refrigerated lemonades, cookies, snacks, and pet food. Each contributes to fulfilling the company’s “100% of Profits to Charity” commitment through the Newman’s Own Foundation.

In collaboration with 30-year Newman’s Own partner LiDestri Foods, Mr. McGrath recently introduced a new line of organic pasta sauces to consumers under the name Common Good. The two CEOs—Giovanni LiDestri and Mike McGrath—selected a specific tomato varietal in a taste test, LiDestri Foods commissioned a California farmer to grow it, and just one year after the idea was conceived, finished jars were arriving at grocery stores.

Mr. McGrath began his work with Newman’s Own as an outside consultant on business issues. He subsequently joined the Newman’s Own team in 2013, when he was hired to manage the intellectual properties and licenses for the food and beverage business. In 2014, Mr. McGrath was named CEO. His more than 35 years in the food and beverage business also includes a successful career in the consumer packaged food business, where he was president and CEO of Weight Watchers and, most recently, the founder and CEO of Wolfgang Puck Soups, which he sold to the Campbell Soup Company.

Michael McGrath was a personal friend of actor and Newman’s Own co-founder Paul Newman. He is a longtime supporter of charitable causes, most notably the SeriousFun Children’s Network, where he serves on the Advisory Board, and its member camps, such as Barretstown in Ireland (where he has served on the Board of Directors) and The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, CT. 

Mr. McGrath earned a bachelor of science in business administration and accounting from Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT and a master’s in business administration from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.

 

Graduation Photos