Many colleges are trying to make student dining more enjoyable for their students. But what's the right solution for the students with most discerning tastes in the country? The answer came when the new student-dining venue at The Culinary Institute of America—dubbed "The Egg"—cracked open on June 29. The product of world-renowned designer Adam Tihany, the 28,000-square-foot facility has been created to both feed and educate the nation's future tastemakers with experiences above and beyond any other collegiate foodservice operation.
"Continuing the tradition of CIA leadership, this new building asserts our dedication to food excellence, innovation, and education," says CIA president Dr. Tim Ryan. "With a wealth of contemporary dining options, new education programs, and dynamic spaces for student gatherings, The Egg—and our expanded Student Commons—marks an important advance for the college as we deliver the world's best professional culinary education for our students."
The Egg offers a broad range of healthful and cutting-edge food options to students in a spectacular setting overlooking the Hudson River. To accomplish this, the college has integrated the principles of the CIA's Menus of Change initiative into a variety of food offerings. These principles include increasing use of vegetables and fruits, developing dishes where meat plays more of a supporting role, making more of the grain options whole grain, and creating conscious menus that promote health and sustainability.
Dining stations—such as sushi, wood-fired pizzas, and artisanal sandwiches—use local, responsible, and sustainable ingredients whenever possible. The unique salad bar features a chef preparing cooked-to-order salad protein toppings. Snacks focus on health, wellness, and the diversity of cultures and cuisines. And, while the standard burger and fries are available, the pricing structure provides a discount of more than 20 percent for students ordering healthier dishes that are just as delicious, such as a wheat berry mushroom burger, chipotle lime-glazed cauliflower taco, wood oven chicken stir-fry, or fish falafel. There are no high-fructose sweetened beverages and, to help make caring for the environment part of campus culture, agua frescas and unsweetened iced tea are free for students presenting their reusable cups.
Supporting its food innovations, the new facility features the most contemporary food and beverage technology. A prime example is the Modbar specialty coffee system—used at only two places in all of Manhattan—in which the barista inputs data into a computer, and the coffee is brewed in under-counter modules and served "on tap."
The Egg is also a truly experiential classroom for CIA education programs, setting it apart from traditional college dining. The High-Volume Production Cookery class serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner from a state-of-the-art kitchen called "The Line." Students pursuing the CIA's Intrapreneurship concentration (to learn how to drive business innovation within an organization) conceive and create a new foodservice operation each semester at the "Innovation Kitchen." An incubator for restaurant concepts, it may be the birthplace of the next Chipotle, a concept founded by CIA grad Steve Ells. And a new on-site microbrewery, The Brooklyn Brewery at the CIA, made possible by a visionary gift from Brooklyn Brewery, is home to a bachelor's-level Art and Science of Brewing class. The course will help chefs think differently about beer, elevating its status as a fine beverage on a level with wine.
"The Egg definitely changes the culture of the college," says senior director of food and beverage operations Waldy Malouf. "It's a great new facility that enhances student life and learning and it perfectly illustrates the CIA's continued dedication to educational innovation."
Upon opening, The Egg immediately becomes the focal point of student life on campus. In addition to the many dining options, it features seven lounge areas with a total seating of 500 indoors, outdoor seating for 150 with spectacular views of the Hudson River, a special events stage and advanced sound system, large multi-media screens for movie and sports nights, and dozens of charging stations. A marketplace offers fresh, local produce and other artisanal ingredients for students to bring home to cook in their residence hall or off-campus housing.
The impressive fireplace and surrounding lounge is named in honor of renowned chef Daniel Boulud, and was made possible by a generous gift from a large group of his friends and associates in celebration of his recent 60th birthday. "There is a certain emotion about sitting around fire. It's soothing. It's relaxing. It's about gathering. It's about sharing. It's about celebrating. It's also about just 'chilling out,'" Boulud says. "Students need a place where they can gather, meet, chill out, and yet be inspired."
The grand opening celebration included the unveiling of an 8-foot egg sculpture standing outside the building. Clad in a highly-reflective chrome finish, and designed by Dillon Works of Mukilteo, Washington, the 1,100-pound art installation brings The Egg to life through a visual representation of one ingredient professional chefs cannot do without.