Major: Culinary Arts Management
Hometown: East Stroudsburg, PA
From the depths of the sea to the depths of “Hell,” Kyle Kupiszewski has experienced his share of pressure. But succeeding in stressful situations has become second nature to this driven CIA student whose experiences in the Navy and as a cooking show contestant have helped him realize exactly what he wants to do with his life.
His path wasn’t always so clear growing up in East Stroudsburg, PA—despite early influences from his mother and grandmother, whom he describes as an “awesome cook.” At first, he had another career in mind.
“I wanted to be an athlete,” he recalls. “But I broke my leg, ending that dream. So I joined the Navy. When I entered the military, they said ‘what do you like to do?’ I told them I like to cook. And so I ended up on a submarine, traveling all over the world.”
Kyle soon learned that being a cook on a submarine was a daunting challenge. “You have to make everything from scratch because the amount of space to store things is very limited,” he says. “Every year you’re deployed for six to eight months, and you’re underwater from 60 to 90 days at a time. You’re one cook serving 150 people three times a day with minimal equipment. It was stressful.”
Thanks to a friend’s dare, Kyle went out of the frying pan and into the fire of Hell’s Kitchen when he tried out for Chef Gordon Ramsey’s hit show. While he didn’t make it to the actual on-air cast list, the same casting company came calling six months later and invited him to be on a new show, Chef Academy, on Bravo. The reality show followed nine students as they made their way through a test culinary program run by award-winning chef Jean Christophe Novelli.
Kyle was able to talk the Navy into giving him a three-month leave for the show, which was “intense. I had never cooked on a burner on the sub,” he says. “All I had were steam kettles and a griddle.” He did well in his new environment though, and while ultimately the show never officially crowned a “winner,” Kyle came out of the experience more motivated than ever to make foodservice his career.
After one more eight-month deployment, Kyle left the Navy and enrolled at the CIA after hearing so many people rave about it. Once he started at the Hyde Park campus, it didn’t take long to realize he had made a wise choice. “I learned more (about cooking) in the first six months at the CIA than in my entire 12 years in the military,” he says. “Even some of the basics blew my mind. I haven’t had one instructor that I didn’t love. This school is so amazing.”
His career goals are equally amazing. “Every industry has their pinnacle corporations that everyone knows about, the Walmarts, the IBMs,” he says. “I want to have a catering company that sets the standard, that is that pinnacle catering company.”
And Kyle is very confident that his CIA degree will help him get there. “People hear you’re a CIA alum and they automatically expect a certain standard,” he explains. “No school compares, and the entire industry knows that. My degree will set me up for success down the road, period.”