Epsilon Sellas ’10, Culinary Development Assistant, Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc.

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Epsilon Sellas ’10

“The best part of my CIA experience was being able to get into the kitchen five days a week, learning hands-on, and experimenting with dishes in an environment designed just for that purpose!”
—Epsilon Sellas ’10

Certificate: Accelerated Culinary Arts Program
Major: Culinary Arts
Campus:  St. Helena, CA
Hometown: Winter Park, FL

Education is the Key

Epsilon Sellas’ desire for a culinary career was sparked by the requisite cooking class component of her hospitality major at the University of Central Florida. “I really liked working in the kitchen but knew I needed additional education,” she says. “When I did my research, I found that The Culinary Institute of America is the best out there, especially for a graduate with a four year degree. I didn’t want to enroll in another two or four-year program, so the 30-week Accelerated Culinary Arts Program (ACAP) offered at the Greystone campus was perfect. In just nine months, I had my certificate. The CIA was the only school that offered such a program.”

Armed with her bachelor’s and ACAP certificate Epsilon researched companies near a preferred locale, her hometown of Winter Park, FL. “I got a job at Mitchell’s Fish Market, owned and operated by Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc. in the front of the house on a fast track to management,” says Epsilon. “However, I began to seek other opportunities within the company and was offered a position as assistant to the vice president of culinary development. The job was specifically created for me based on my education—a combination of a hospitality four year degree and my certificate from the CIA.”

As the culinary development assistant, Epsilon is responsible for seasonal recipe development as well as creating and writing recipes that go out to all Mitchell’s Fish Market and Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations. She also photographs food for training purposes, participates in video demonstrations, teaches culinary sessions during Chef’s Training meetings, and creates dishes for special national dinners and catered events.

Epsilon’s boss knows a thing or two about the CIA; he is a 1973 graduate of the college. “The education I received from the CIA was so thorough,” explains Epsilon. “You learn the culinary basics—knife cuts, different cuisines, product identification, proper sanitation practices, and how to store food and operate equipment. These are skills I continue to use everyday—my mise en place. The best part of my CIA experience was being able to get into the kitchen five days a week, learning hands-on, and experimenting with dishes in an environment designed just for that purpose! The garde manger class especially was so unique and different. And the baking and pastry portion of the curriculum was helpful for my job developing seasonal desserts.”

Living on the west coast was a learning experience in and of itself for Epsilon. “I loved the Napa Valley. Being surrounded by amazing restaurants, sampling excellent cuisine, and visiting vineyards gave me opportunities outside of the classroom to expand my understanding and love of food.”

Looking back, her decision to enroll in the ACAP program was a no brainer. “The CIA gave me the knowledge to do my job and advance in the culinary field. If you decide to attend, do it with your whole heart, commit with no reservations. Make the most out of every opportunity from day one. Be humble and open minded to different subjects and styles. You never know what hidden talents or passions may emerge from within yourself.”

Epsilon feels strongly that her ACAP certificate was worth the time and money. “Being a CIA graduate sets you apart from the crowd, it gives you an edge and adds value to you as an employee. The standards and professional environment of the school prepares you to go right out into the field. The commitment to my education reflects the commitment I have towards my career. My boss can see the value I place on a job well done, this all stems from the caliber of education I received.”

A base of over 44,000 CIA alumni offers a vast wealth of experience and networking opportunities for a recent graduate like Epsilon. “Being an alumnus of the CIA opens the door to connections all over the world. It’s an added benefit on top of a stellar education and it’s an important tool to utilize as you build your career.”

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