CIA Alumni Profiles

Lifetime membership in an exclusive club—that’s what awaits you as a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. Our 48,000-strong network of alumni can testify to the exceptional value of a CIA education. With your CIA degree in hand, you don’t just have a foot in the door—you have thousands of feet in the door. The list of celebrated CIA alumni is as diverse as it is extensive. John Besh, Cat Cora, Duff Goldman, Susan Feniger, Johnny Iuzzini, Roy Yamaguchi, Sherry Yard—these are just a small sampling of our many alumni leaders. They’ve found success doing what they love. They fully embraced the idea that Food is Life. Now it’s your turn.

Melanie Dunbar, Chef Instructor at The Culinary Center

Degree: Associate of Occupational Studies Major: Culinary Arts Campus: Hyde Park, NY It could easily be argued that Melanie Dunbar has the greatest job on earth or at sea. She is a chef-instructor at The Culinary Center, the first cooking school at sea, for premium cruise line Oceania Cruises®. Melanie teaches hands-on instruction onboard the ships Marina and Riviera, and leads guests on … [Read more...]

Courtney Humiston, Sommelier, Petit Crenn

Certificate: Accelerated Wine and Beverage program (AWBP) Campus: St. Helena, CA Courtney Humiston’s many years as a freelance writer and editor in New York City included a year-long stint covering the city’s dining scene for NBC. One of the perks of her job was the chance to sample culinary creations from some of the world’s top chefs and exposure to the wonderful and complex world of wine. … [Read more...]

Santosh Varghese ’13, Wine Specialist and Marketing & Public Relations Manager at Zachys Wine Auctions

Degree: Wine and Beverage Program Major: Culinary Arts Campus: Hyde Park, NY Santosh Varghese ’13, Wine Specialist and Marketing & Public Relations Manager at Zachys Wine Auctions, had a successful career in international banking with Deutsche Bank in London and New York, yet something didn’t feel quite right. "My job wasn’t fulfilling," says Santosh. "I kept going back to my love of food, … [Read more...]

Susan Feniger ’77—Chef, Author, and Entrepreneur

Degree: Associate in Occupational Studies Major: Culinary Arts Campus: Hyde Park, NY Susan Feniger is the co-chef and co-owner of the Border Grill empire in collaboration with longtime business partner Mary Sue Milliken, with three locations in the Los Angeles area, two in Las Vegas, and two very busy Border Grill Food trucks. She is a prolific cookbook writer with eight titles in … [Read more...]

Sean Kahlenberg ’04, Lecturing Instructor—Culinary Arts, The Culinary Institute of America

Traveling the world as a professional chef wasn’t in Sean Kahlenberg’s original plans while he was growing up in the small town of Wollongong, Australia. “I was an athlete, and when I was 16 I actually bought my own gym,” Sean recalls. “And then my friend and I bought two more.” At around that same time, however, an opportunity to apprentice at a local diner came up. “Some friends were running … [Read more...]

Ginger Elizabeth Hahn ’03, Chocolatier and Owner, Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates

Degree: Associate in Occupational Studies Major: Baking & Pastry Arts Campus: Hyde Park, NY From an early age, Ginger Elizabeth Hahn was curious about cooking. Her interest was piqued by Julia Child’s cooking shows and the Great Chefs series. But it was a culinary summer camp at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone that really struck a cord. “I was 16 and it was a week-long … [Read more...]

Layla Saif, Head Garde Manger and Expeditor, The Hop, Beacon, NY

Degree: Associate in Occupational Studies Major: Culinary Arts Campus: Hyde Park, NY Layla Saif didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her mother tried to help out by making suggestions. She proposed being a writer, the proud profession of Layla’s poet father and many of her aunts and uncles, but the idea didn’t seem to fit. She suggested Layla become a piano player, but though … [Read more...]

Evan Bollers ’14, Junior Food Scientist, Signature Brands LLC

Degree: Bachelor of Professional Studies Major: Culinary Science Campus: Hyde Park, NY Ever wonder how new foods get developed and who’s behind these innovative formulations and recipes? Oftentimes, there’s a CIA graduate involved—one like Evan Bollers. After graduating in 2014 with his bachelor’s degree in culinary science, Evan went straight to work for Ocala, FL-based Signature Brands, a … [Read more...]

Caroline Lynch ’07, Designer Culinologist and Food Scientist at IDEO

Certificate: ACAP Major: Culinary Arts Campus: St. Helena, CA Hometown: Minneapolis, MN Caroline Lynch had a typical college experience while studying mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. But while watching an episode of Unwrapped on The Food Network, Caroline got introduced to the world of food science. She thought, “I need to do this,” and immediately switched … [Read more...]

Llewellyn Correia ’92, Regional Executive Chef—Wegman’s Food Markets

Degree: Associate of Occupational Studies Major: Culinary Arts Campus: Hyde Park, NY “I knew I wanted to be a chef from an early age because I always loved food,” says Llewellyn Correia ’92, regional executive chef at Wegman’s Food Markets in both Maryland and Virginia. “I love to share my knowledge of food with others.” Born in Tanzania, Llewellyn’s family relocated to Mumbai, India where … [Read more...]