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CIA News: Latin Cuisines Highlighted; Halliday Addresses Grads

Ken Halliday at CIAThe CEO behind the redevelopment of San Antonio’s Pearl Brewery complex delivered the commencement address at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) campus Friday, April 11.

Ken Halliday of Silver Ventures advised graduates about the importance of passion and priorities during the ceremony. Within the last decade, Silver Ventures has turned Pearl into an emerging urban culinary and cultural destination along the River Walk. The CIA opened a campus at Pearl in 2008.

“If you do what you are really passionate about, you will excel at it and you won’t work a day in your life,” Halliday told 10 recipients of Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degrees in culinary arts.

Halliday encouraged students to keep a balance between their careers and personal lives, something he didn’t learn until he was diagnosed with cancer in 2010.

“It was a heck of a wake-up call. My priorities were suddenly in sharp focus. I saw clearly what was really important,” said Halliday, adding that he is now doing well medically. “Be clear about what your priorities are and then objectively ask yourself if you are honoring your priorities in how you are living your life.”

In addition to an AAS in culinary arts, students at the CIA San Antonio can also major in baking and pastry arts.  As part of their studies during sophomore year, students work at Nao: New World Flavors, a public restaurant on campus. Generous financial aid is available through the college’s El Sueño initiative and other scholarship opportunities.

Latin Cuisines Concentration underway May 5 for CIA Hyde Park students


Preparing Pork Pibil, a traditional Mexican dish at the CIA.

Preparing Pork Pibil, a traditional Mexican dish at the CIA.

A group of students from The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) campus in Hyde Park, New York, is preparing to spend the first semester of senior year at the college’s campus in San Antonio, focusing on the ingredients, techniques, and cultural traditions of Latin American cuisines. It is part of the CIA’s Latin Cuisines Concentration, which launches on May 5—Cinco de Mayo.

The students, pursuing bachelor’s degrees in culinary arts management from the CIA, will study the foods of Mexico and other Latin American cuisines that are ripe for broader exposure in the United States, including those of Brazil, Peru, Central America, and the Caribbean. They will explore the nuances of flavor development and culinary expression of these cuisines, while learning from expert faculty and visiting instructors, such as award-wining chef Rick Bayless, all under the direction of CIA Chef Sergio Remolina.

Students also will be immersed in the history and cultures of these nations and regions.

The Latin Cuisines Concentration gives students in-depth knowledge and a valuable specialization in some of the world’s most exciting cuisines. Latin meals account for an estimated one-third of all ethnic restaurant sales in the United States. And, the students will be gaining this in-depth knowledge while spending 15 weeks in San Antonio—the gateway to Latin America. During the semester, students will present several special dinners that will be open to the public.

Chef Remolina comes to San Antonio to head the program after six years as an assistant professor at the Hyde Park campus, where he was the opening executive chef of the CIA’s Bocuse Restaurant and taught Cuisines of the Americas. A former executive chef at the Mexican Embassy in Paris, Chef Remolina was also executive chef and owner of restaurants in Mexico City and Cuidad Juarez.

The CIA’s Latin Cuisines program joins existing beverage management and farm-to-table cooking held at the college’s Greystone campus in California’s Napa Valley.

From CIA, Jeff Levine, Hyde Park, N.Y.

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Latin Flavors in San Antonio’s Kitchen


Wilo Benet of San Juan Puerto Rico demonstrates how to make sofrito

In Mexican kitchens, many dishes were born out of leftovers and a desire to make something new. Women would see what they had on hand and create a wholly different meal with it.

A bowl of leftover boiled plantains and leftover black beans, if such a thing ever exists there, might be turned into Torundas de Platano Macho, or fried plaintain balls, with a black bean sauce.

That’s what Tomas Dominguez of Café Santa Cruz in Coatepec, Veracruz, and Iliana de la Vega of the San Antonio campus of the Culinary Institute of America told the audience Wednesdsay at the beginning of the second annual Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conference, a three-day event that’s drawn a host of international chefs to discuss the culinary treasures of Central and South America.


Alfredo Ayala adds cilantro to Habichuelas Guisadas

The same story was heard from chefs visiting from Brazil, Chile and Puerto Rico.

Take manioc, for example. It’s “the staple food of Brazil,” said Teresa Corcao from Rio de Janeiro. It can be known by numerous names, including tapioca, which is the most common form found in the U.S.

But it’s also the “invisible food,” she continued. “They eat it a lot, but they don’t talk about it.”

Yet you’ll find it in everything from farofa, a powdery dish used as a condiment, to a tapioca brulee.

Beans are the same with most of the Latin American cuisines. They are expected, rather than analyzed.

You might have one type of bean with lunch and another type with dinner, culinary historian Maricel E. Presilla said.

They could be as common to North American palates as pintos, garbanzos or black beans, or as select as Puerto Rican gandules.


Evan Martinez, Art Stahl, Elizabeth Kossick and Cynthia Rodriguez listen to a panel of speakers during the Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conference. Kossick is the CIA's Latin Cuisines Specialist, while Martinez, Stahl and Rodriguez are graduates of the San Antonio program.

The iconic foods of these countries will be explored more fully in the two remaining days of the conference. “There’s so much we still don’t know about the foods and flavors of Latin America,” Mark Erickson, vice president of continuing education for the CIA, said during his opening remarks.

That’s the focus of the San Antonio campus at the Pearl Brewery, according to Ken Halliday of Silver Ventures, which manages the site. “We see food at the center of everything we do here,” he said. “And a unique component to this project is education.”

So, if all goes well, the chefs in attendance will take what they learn “back into your kitchens and your menus,” he said.

Habichuelas Guisadas (Puerto Rican Bean Stew)

1 pound white navy beans (see note)
1 ham hock
½ pound smoked ham, cubed
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
Whole culantro leaves

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
½ green bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped or tomato paste, to taste
4 tablespoons Cubanelle chiles or Anaheim chiles, finely chopped (see note)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¾ cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

CIA_Latin3Cilantro leaves, chopped, to garnish

Soak the beans overnight in 2 quarts of cold water. The next day, drain and rinse in cold water. Transfer the beans to a medium-sized pot, and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Add the ham hock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

For the sofrito: While beans are cooking, heat the olive in a sauté pan on medium-high heat and add the onion, bell pepper, tomato, chiles, garlic, cilantro, oregano, salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. After the beans have cooked for 1 hour, and add the sofrito, ham, butternut squash and culantro leaves, and cook for 30 minutes more or until tender.  If the beans are too dry, add a little bit of water or chicken stock. Remove culantro leaves.

Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. Serve immediately with white rice.

Note: Either pinto or kidney beans can be substituted for white navy beans. Season with hotter chiles, if you prefer a spicier dish.

Makes 8 servings.

Adapted from Alfredo Ayala/Latin Flavors, American Kitchens

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