When Vogt’s Vietnamese restaurant concept takes up residence in the student dining hall, known as The Egg, it will neighbor one of the existing contract-run foodservice stations called The Line. The CIA contracts with Restaurant Associates to collaboratively fill this space. Through The Line, the CIA has brought sustainable food sourcing into its own foodservice operation, and students learn from that, too.
The menu at The Line is more plant-forward. Burgers are blended with whole grains. Seafood is sourced according to sustainability guidelines. Vegan items are featured on the menu. It’s a menu that provides options for varying dietary preferences and allergies.
“Nowadays the focus is on food systems like never before,” says Bruce Mattel, senior associate dean of culinary arts. “Years ago, chefs wouldn’t worry so much about where their food was coming from. Now you can’t escape that you have a responsibility, and we’re preparing our students to assume that responsibility and recognize what they do has far-reaching implications.”
Students like Delucci and his colleagues in student government have already started implementing these lessons, Mattel says. The student government has committees to review food waste, sustainability, and the curriculum as a whole. Students specializing in business are required to think about sourcing sustainably when pitching concepts, like Vogt’s pho concept. In the CIA’s business school, culinary students aren’t just learning how to do business—they’re learning how to do it better.
Bill Guilfoyle, an associate professor in the CIA’s business school, is quick to point out that the school still has its share of fine-dining chefs who want to go out and work for the most prestigious restaurants in the country. But many more may be seeking something even more coveted in the food industry: a work-life balance. Whether that means cafeteria foodservice, corporate recipe development, food policy, or culinary science, culinary students are finding that a variety of careers are available for their skill sets. And that’s intentional.
“We work hard to expose students to all the many tracks and potential career paths in this really great and vibrant industry,” says Annette Graham, dean of the School of Business and Management Studies. “It’s really been eye opening to students.”
It sure is different than when Graham went through the CIA, she says. After her culinary education, she decided she was a good chef but saw her career elsewhere.
“I made the decision pretty quickly that I was going to get educated and follow a career path in education,” she says. “Now, I may have made a different decision because it is a more welcoming environment for women to go and do different things.”
And in that way, the student body has changed as well—not just in skills, but in diversity, too. Up until 10 years ago, for example, Guilfoyle rarely saw female students volunteer for general manager positions at the senior class annual charity dinner.
“We’ve really seen that not only the males are accepting that, but also when you ask for volunteers, more females volunteer,” he says.
Innovation in entrepreneurship
As proof, Vogt leads a team of a handful of men and a larger handful of women in a menu development and testing course as they prepare their final menu test for Good Pho You. Vogt is a quiet but firm leader. When the team gets off track, riffing on a recipe they didn’t like, she brings them back to focus. It’s in these moments the students are performing tasks, collaborating, testing boundaries, failing, and learning again lessons they’ll take into the business with them.
Initially, Vogt pitched Good Pho You as just soup—a fully pho concept. But she and her team—the rest of the class—quickly learned that the business wouldn’t be profitable just making soup. It evolved from there to a broader Vietnamese concept that ultimately includes bahn mi, cold noodle salads, marinated and grilled meats, and a slew of desserts.
“You’ve got to make money,” says Mark Ainsworth, a culinary arts professor leading Vogt’s menu development and testing course. “We can make anything great, that’s easy. That’s what we do, and we do it to the gold standard. And then we calculate the food cost and it’s 40 percent. We can’t charge $20 for a bowl of soup.”
The pho broth took Vogt’s team the whole semester to nail down, and the lesson was unexpected, she says.
“We’re very accustomed here at school to cooking because it tastes good, and now we have to cook because it sells and makes a profit,” Vogt says. “It’s definitely a major change of pace.”