Master and Commander

I studied culinary arts at the CIA, that same venerable institution that produced the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Todd English, Alfred Portale and Roy Yamaguchi. Never wore it on my sleeve. Ever. When I went there it was a GI Bill off-shoot with a bunch of ex navy burger-flippers in attendance that had no idea of “cuisine”. The extreme “cluster” was the dichotomous culinary blend there of ex-GIs and the new gay foodies. Of course, I was a complete food snob at 19 and thought I knew it all. I see the same neurosis today. My ego changed (immediately) when I was a crack broiler cook schlepping over 500 steak dinners nightly a couple years later (the only job I could get in rural Maine).

Cuisine as we know it today did not begin to come into its own untilthe ‘80s. Today at my alma matter, there are students who do understand work and discipline, and God bless ‘em. But there are also some who just want to coast and get on reality TV shows and become celebrity chefs (a one in a million shot for certain). And we see them getting away with it. This is a profession and an institution (the CIA) in transition.

Gone are the good ‘ol days of the traditional kitchen is an autocratic master-apprentice model, where all the students say is ‘Oui, chef.’ Now, creativity and improvisation are most important, and my school is struggling with how to reconcile the two cultures.

Thus I can hardly wait, with baited breath, for the 2016 graduates ofthe CIA to proudly start serving their inspirational personal statement dishes like rondelles of house-cured artisanal squirrel with dollops of foamed Dominican alligator liver, poached goldfish fin essence and fermented Kopi Luwak beans drizzled with Japanese cod sperm on a nest of anise-brined frisee and pungent durian-infused sustainably harvested Nigerian cane rat.



Until Next Time,


Robert Colin Bryant Founder, TBG Fotographie Ltd.

TBG Fotographie shoots the point at which beauty meets reality. Couture meets debris. Around the world. With attitude. To learn more about TGB Fotographie, and see our work, visit us at

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