Major: Culinary Arts Management
Hometown: Prospect, OH
A Little Bit of Everything
When it comes to life, Allyson Bayless wants to taste as many different experiences as she can. That’s why she chose The Culinary Institute of America for her formal education, and it’s also why she enjoys competing in sports so much.
“The CIA really gives you a base knowledge, with a little bit of everything, which is what I love” she says. “And it’s the same with my life, whether it’s sports or genres of music. I like to try a lot of different things.”
Allyson was pleasantly surprised to find out the CIA had such a full athletic program, including the CIA Steels intercollegiate teams. She plans to play some intramural softball, but has focused most of her competitive energy on her favorite sport: tennis.
“I didn’t know the CIA had a tennis team until I came here,” she recalls. “I heard about the tryouts and was excited. I lettered in tennis in high school, playing all four years and almost making it to the districts. So a tennis team at the CIA was great for me.”
The experience has definitely lived up to her expectations. “The team improved a lot from last year; we’re really becoming close,” she says. “We play each other a lot so we know each other’s weaknesses and can help improve on those. We get to play in New York City at least three times this year, and the end-of-year tournament is at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York, where the U.S. Open is played.”
There have been plenty of challenges along the way, but Allyson and the team were up to the task. “One match I’ll always remember is when we beat Pratt Institute by one game at their home court,” she recounts. “It was on an indoor rubberized track with tennis lines, which we weren’t used to. The balls don’t catch any traction so they skid so much faster than usual. It was tough…but we won!”
Allyson is facing challenges in her CIA education with the same enthusiasm and determination. “The CIA has taught me a lot, and is really preparing me for the long hours this industry demands,” she says. “Before I came here, I couldn’t tell you how to fillet a fish to save my life. I was a blank canvas, but I’ve learned so much. Ingredients knowledge is key; now I know what a Jerusalem artichoke is, or a pulled bean.”
Not surprisingly, Allyson wants to try different things in the food world when she graduates with her bachelor’s degree. “I want to work in a kitchen, then move into a management or front-of-the-house position, then maybe open a restaurant,” she explains. “I enjoyed my wines class, so I might go for the sommelier test. I’d like to travel too.”
But in the meantime, she’s still faced with the challenges of life as a student-athlete. “It’s a little hectic, but being on the tennis team has really helped push me to not procrastinate, to balance my time,” she says. “I follow the CIA Steels motto—‘We hone our skills on and off the court.’ It’s true; we always try to be professional at matches since we’re the CIA. We’re trying to represent the college the best we can.”
With her infectious enthusiasm for life and learning, Allyson Bayless is doing just that.