See y’all down under!

For those of you who are unaware, in order to obtain my associate’s degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America, I have to complete a 15-week externship. It must take place at a site approved by the CIA as well as consist of 80% back-of-house experience. Other than these requirements, the students are free to select the externship site they want.

I started my externship search basically on Day 1, back in May. I had one goal: to complete my externship abroad. I did not have the privilege of studying abroad while attending OSU, so I was going to see how possible the opportunity was for my externship at the CIA.

After speaking with the career services advisor about my plans, and finding a few sites on the Culinary Connect website that were already pre-approved for students, I was told that finding and securing said externship would pretty much be up to me. Challenge accepted. I narrowed my search to those sites that provided housing, and then sent out e-mails.

The next few months involved interviewing and signing the contract. My last step was to book the flight, and now that I have, I can share my news with all of you!

I am SO SO SO excited to announce that I have accepted an externship at the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld, Australia. This resort has a two-hatted restaurant, one of the top wine lists in the world, and the menu changes daily based on the produce harvested from the restaurant’s garden located on-site. I will be leaving on Saturday, January 21, 2017, and will be in the land down under until May 13, 2017.


screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-3-42-36-pm         screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-3-42-48-pm         screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-3-43-22-pm

Australia, here I come!

Be Bold,


All of NYC in a day

All of NYC in a day

This past weekend I went into the city, walked a total of 8 miles, and sped through a few more on the subway. By the end of the day, I felt like I’d seen the whole city! (Not hardly, but we still saw a lot).nyc-cody-1

We got an early start, on the 6:50AM train, and arrived at Grand Central Station by 9AM. Very slow in the morning, but the sunrise was beautiful streaming in through the windows. I kept looking for the Humans of New York photographer, but had no such luck. We walked through Times Square on our way to find breakfast, and it was similarly deserted. It was a strange feeling to be in such well known places before they got extremely busy. But I didn’t mind. Why did we go to the city so early do you ask? To make it to the first service at Hillsong NYC of course!

We went to the Times Square campus in the Playstation theater. The facility itself was incredible, but the people were even better. “Welcome to church!” Friendly staff, warm lobby, and they even passed out Oreos and cups of water for everyone.

nyc-cody-4Hillsong just released its newest album, and worship was a set of songs from the new CD. There are no words for how powerful the worship was. Beautiful. God’s presence filled the entire church, and the worship was only one aspect of his love. The message was from the college youth pastor on What is the bible? He talked about what the bible isn’t and about three main contributors to the bible: Abraham, David, and Paul.

When service ended, we took the subway to Chinatown, in search of some major deals. It turns out, I was too nervous to go in any back rooms or look through any catalogs in a back alley, but my friend did get suckered in to buying a watch. It was a nice watch, but I don’t think the guys were going to let us leave if we didn’t buy anything…they started to get rather aggressive. All of the seafood, produce, and dry goods that spilled out from every shop onto the sidewalks was quite interesting. And pungent. I stopped to get some Thai milk tea before we walked through Little

Next stop was Chelsea Market. It was my second visit, but my first time eating at Creamline. Their food is farm to tray, with all food that is locally sourced. Best turkey burger I’ve ever had! I definitely appreciated the less crowded meat-packing district that surrounded Chelsea Market after coming directly from the noisy, cloudy, smelly streets of Chinatown.

We then went to see the World Trade Center and the 9/11 memorial. The sun was just beginning to set, so the lighting was absolutely breathtaking.



We found out that the Staten Island Ferry was free, and made it there just in time for the last route around the Statue of Liberty.



We ended the night with a trip back to Times Square at night to see all the lights, before grabbing some Chipotle for dinner on the train back to Poughkeepsie.

NYC is starting to grow on me. Once I figure out that subway system, I think I’ll like it a little bit better…We also happened to stumble across some restaurants whose owners I was able to meet at the Board of Trustees dinner that I was nominated to attend two weeks ago. Sadly, they were both closed on Sunday. But now I know where they are so I won’t get lost when I stage for them!


Who did you go to the city with, Allison? His name is Cody.


Be Bold, 


10 Things I Learned in My First Semester at the CIA (besides food)

I can’t believe that I am already finished with my first semester at the CIA! I already started Meat I.D. and Fabrication today, but before I study for Day 2, I decided to sit down and reflect on all that has happened this first semester. As I did this, I managed to narrow everything down to a list of 10 things that I learned during my first semester at the World’s Premier Culinary College (besides food).

10) Eating on the weekends can be a challenge when you live on campus. I have the base meal plan. It does not include any “gold points,” which can be used anytime, anywhere. Thus, I don’t have food on the weekends included in my meal plan. Am I going to pay more money to this school? Sorry, but no I am not. I don’t have an extra $300 lying around, and I’m not always on campus on the weekends. So I got creative: There are events on the weekends, and a bus on Saturdays to run errands and grab a meal. Sometimes you have leftovers from what you make in class, and you also make friends with people that have cars. If you are really lucky, you also find a family willing to open up their home on Sunday nights for you and your friends to cook dinner. Shout out to the Tartter family. Or you work, and they feed you family meal there. All different opportunities to overcome this obstacle. God will always provide.

9) Campus looks and feels completely different before noon, so don’t sleep the day away. It’s a waste of your time and a serious waste of money. You’re supposed to be investing in your future, not sleeping until class time, especially PM students who don’t have class until 1:30pm or later. And guess what, you can still function at 6:30AM. You can actually even be productive at that time! That’s why they invented coffee.

8) If you show up on time, you’re late. Pretty basic principle. I’m a former marching band kid, so I got used to “Mason Time,” my band director’s definition for time, which was 15 minutes early. Always. AND, be prepared. Be over-prepared if you can.

7) You have to take care of yourself. This includes fitness, sleep, feeding yourself, relaxation, and stimulation. In a class that sometimes last 15 weeks, you miss 5 days and you fail. In a class that lasts 14 days, you miss 2 days of class, you fail, regardless of the reason. So, you have take care of yourself. Get the proper amount of sleep, take vitamins, stay away from that friend with the flu, anything to ensure that you can make the most of this education. That also means taking some time to relax and enjoy everything that the Hudson Valley has to offer. You can get so much more out of your time here if you also seek opportunities to learn and explore off of campus.

6) Take advantage of what’s around you. The library, clubs, jobs, mentors, the farmers markets, NYC, the list goes on and on. All of which are opportunities to LEARN. You’re at SCHOOL, you’re PAYING to be here, so read as much as you can, taste as much as you can, see as much as you can. Every event/social/gathering/volunteering/job is an opportunity to meet people, make friends, and establish connections. And if you stand out for your work ethic in class, chefs take notice of that. They will help you anyway they can.

5) Lead with kindness not anger. Someone not pulling their weight in the kitchen? First, bring it up with chef and/or the group leader privately. Then, talk it over with that person if necessary. Do you know all that is going in on that person’s life outside of class? No. But it is our responsibility to treat others with kindness. They had to jump through the same hoops we did to get here, and while they may not have the same work ethic in the kitchen, they will either learn it now, learn it on the job, or figure out that this industry isn’t for them. But it’s not my job to shove that realization down their throats.

4) Procrastination is the enemy. There is too much to learn to put anything off. Classes last 3 weeks. You have to read and study everyday. And then you get tested on it in order to advance to the next class. You have to perform and give your all every single day. Things move too swiftly here for you to procrastinate. And, it’s college. So…studying gets you the degree…and the job.

3) “Yes, Chef.” It is heard all over this place, but  we have to understand that this may not necessarily be the right answer all the time. If your class hasn’t finished their 100 tournes, and you start plating your food, the answer is clearly not “Yes, Chef I am ready for service.” And then, you have to be prepared for the onslaught of criticism for why you haven’t done what Chef asked. If you aren’t prepared for class, you didn’t bring your timeline or you didn’t sharpen your knives, you obviously can’t say “Yes, Chef, I can slice through that slab of raw meat no problem.” But overall it is the ultimate sign of respect, and it shows that you are competent and prepared when that is your answer. Regardless of circumstances, they earned the title of Chef, so you better address your instructors that way at all times. And, always reply when a chef is talking to you.

2) You don’t know until you ask. Do you not understand a cooking technique or a French term for something? Ask. Don’t know where you’re going? Ask. This also goes for opportunities. Within the first few weeks of being on-campus, I was asking students about jobs because I knew I needed one. And then one day, I saw the GM of Apple Pie Bakery Cafe, and struck up a conversation about doing a stage in the breads department; something I am extremely interested in. So I did the stage, and I got a job in Apple Pie as a culinary student. I also knew once I got here that I wanted to do my externship overseas, so I asked to see if it was possible. And it was. You don’t know what’s possible unless you ask.

1) It’s okay for things to not go as planned. We lost a group member in a tragedy this past semester. We had a lot of trash parties. I didn’t get an RA position like I wanted. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but does that mean you stop? No. The days keep going, classes keep learning, and you’re still alive to take advantage of another opportunity. God still has a plan for everything, so my plan doesn’t have to be foolproof. That’s impossible anyways.

Obviously, this list could be much longer and more extensive. Did you know they taught about food here too? Kidding. But the all-inclusive list from above was weaved in and out with a vast amount of culinary knowledge. And no doubt I will learn more in semester two.


Be Bold,




A Visit from OSU

A Visit from OSU

This past weekend I had a planned visitor, and a surprise guest! Both from OSU, my alma mater. My friend Seth arrived Thursday evening, and my mentor and one of the reasons I am at the CIA, Chef Tiffany Poe, surprised us on Saturday morning!


After catching up on the happenings in New York and Oklahoma, we all went to Fishkill Farms for a day of apple picking. Fall is very much in full swing in the Hudson Valley, and it was absolutely perfect weather to be outside.

osu-1    osu-27osu-6osu-15

I wanted to ponder about the world as Johnny Appleseed must have.

There were multiple types of apples to collect, including two organic ones. I had never been to a farm, so it was a new kind of joy to experience plucking your own fruit from the tree it grew on, and immediately taking that first bite. Guess what: food tastes completely different when you know exactly where it came from and harvested it yourself. Best apples I’ve ever had. We also found a beautiful patch of sunflowers, pumpkins, and the chicken coops. Some of the flowers happened to be bigger than my head, so of course I had to document it.


There was a farm store near the entrance with some delicious apple cider doughnuts, fresh apple cider, and an assortment of fruits and vegetables and other food creations that were made and sold from the produce grown on the farm and in the surrounding area.


After apple picking, we saw downtown Rhinebeck, and ended the evening at Cinnamon, an Indian restaurant that delivered a truly outstanding feast.


On Sunday morning, Seth and I went to the Rhinebeck farmers market. It was a lavish assortment of fresh produce, and just about everything brewed or made locally that you could imagine: flowers, beer, sausage, herbs, honey, cheese, fish, etc. I’m continuously amazed at the food knowledge in the Hudson Valley. The average consumer is a whole different kind of individual up here, as everyone is trying to buy fresh and local. And the community has responded with such an immense respect for the artisans that produce them. I fall in love with the food atmosphere more each time I find a new farm or artisan cheesemaker or even a grocery store that only sells local produce. You just don’t get this kind of respect and this level of local cuisine in a giant city.


This weekend was a nice balance of spending time with some of the most important people from my time at OSU, and showing them what I am learning and participating in at the CIA. Seth will be coming here in May 2017, so he got to tour the campus, and he left super excited and confident that he made the right decision in applying.

I have my last day of Culinary Fundamentals on Thursday, September 29, and next week I begin my second semester. Can you believe my first term is already over!? I can’t.

Be Bold,



Makin’ that Dough

Makin’ that Dough

apple8Just this morning I worked a stage in the Breads Department at Apple Pie Bakery and Cafe on campus. I worked with Courtney on lamination. It is the dough technique used in the process of making croissants. We used this big sheeter to roll out huge slabs of dough into thin sheets with layers of butter in between them. It is imperative that each layer of dough has a layer of butter in between it. Or else it won’t be a proper laminated dough. I learned the four-fold and three-fold method that is in most bakers’ repertoires and also happens to be in one of our school spirit chants.

Over the course of about four hours, Courtney and I made plain croissants, pain au chocolat, ham and cheese croissants, almond raisin croissants, and danishes.






This job was a random opportunity that came about after I ran into one of the Apple Pie GMs on the elevator while restocking the coffee lounges for my other job. I asked if the Bakery ever hired culinary students, specifically in the Breads department, and after asking a few questions about my interest in breads, he allowed me to stage specifically with laminated doughs. And at the end of the stage, I got the job! I’ll be going in for a few more training shifts, and then I’ll be already to laminate on my own.

This past weekend I also went on another hike. There were yellow, orange, and red leaves everywhere! It makes me super excited to spend this fall in the Hudson Valley.


Be Bold,


Oui, Chef! A Day with French Society

Oui, Chef! A Day with French Society

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Société Culinaire Philanthropique Annual Picnic. The Société is the oldest Association of chefs, both culinary and pastry, that works to promote French cuisine in the United States.

The event was for around 1,000 people and took place on the property of the Culinarian’s Home Foundation, a retirement facility in New Paltz. It houses members of the Société and of the culinary/hospitality profession. Our kitchen was a barn and the outdoors, and it led for quite an adventurous weekend of cooking.


Saturday prep started at 8am, battling the rain. Eva and myself sliced mushrooms under a pavilion and then attended to jardinière vegetables of green beans, turnips, carrots, and pearl onions. All the veg was stored in these giant roast pans that took both of us petite women to lift…prep for 1,000 takes a lot of food. The rain was on and off all morning, but it didn’t stop us from practicing our sauté skills!

french-7We ate lunch the French way, with a huge buffet and wine, communally gathered at long tables underneath an outdoor tent. We were very much ahead of schedule, so I spent some time cleaning dishes, and filling up giant marmites (stockpots) with drinkable water from a hose attached to the house. After these tasks, Eva and I went to a hotel in town that the Société had graciously given us for the night to clean up and rest.

That evening we returned to the property for a delicious dinner prepared by some of the chefs of the Société. One of which owns a rather successful smoked salmon factory in New Jersey and provided some of the best filets I’ve ever tasted. french-13I happily loaded up on salmon and all the appetizers and salad offered, and went to town, thinking that this was a wonderful meal! I mentioned how good dinner was to the CIA instructor sitting next to me, and she clued me in that this was only 1 of FOUR courses for the evening. This is when the dinner got a little more interesting…

french-19The second course was beef tenderloin with demi-glace, green beans, and potatoes. I tried to take a less eager portion this time, but the French were more than happy to share and loaded my plate a second time. I did my best to eat everything, but the tank was starting to reach full capacity.

Then came the cheese course. Have I mentioned how much I love cheese? Well, I went back to my over-eager ways and got a big slice of each type of cheese just so that I could taste them all. (We also just had cheese day in Product Knowledge, and I was ready to eat some more). Shortly thereafter, I found myself staring at my plate of half-eaten cheese slices to avoid the glare of the Frenchman sitting across from me. He scolded me for wasting food, and expressed that this wasn’t the French way. My instructor tried to help matters, saying that I had no control over the generous portions on my plate, but that didn’t soften the harsh glare he gave me for the duration of the meal.

Finally, dessert arrived, and I was forced to eat every bit of the very decadent chocolate mousse cake put before me before the Frenchman had time to speak. I will say though that he got two slices of dessert by mistake, and did not finish both of his portions!

I also should mention that I must learn French now. The same man mentioned above spoke of his 5-year-old granddaughter who can speak 3 languages, and I am lacking because I only know one…I guess Spanglish doesn’t count. Lo siento señor…

The following day, we got to the site around 7:15am to begin prepping. The day got off to a great start: Eva and I jovially slicing watermelon. Then I was exiled to the popcorn and cotton candy machine for the next four hours…I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be sent away from the kitchen to sell popcorn for $1 while the rest of the students got to continue helping with prep, but, what else can you say besides “Yes, Chef.”

My station for the morning…

People had started to arrive and enjoy croissants and coffee, and I noticed that students were passing around these blue straws to people called “tumblers.” Apparently, they’re sold 4 for $1 and you take the paper out of each tube to see if there is a number on it. If so, you win French wine or mustard or even Nutella! All the fancy French things. I had no money on me, but the girl that was stationed at the cotton candy table with me bought me 20 of the little guys! ALL of which unfortunately were blank.

When people started to head to the tent to grab their seats for lunch, I practically ran back to the kitchen to start passing out food. It was a interesting system. Each table seated 10 people. There was an envelope on each table with 4 tickets inside, one for each course. Someone from each table would come up to the barn or the grilling area and receive a tray that would feed everyone. A family-style French picnic.


The first course: sliced tomatoes (w/vinaigrette), seafood salad, bean salad, pate, and cured sausage.

After the dessert had been served, we headed back to the same tent we ate under the day before to sit down and eat with the team. It was a collection of about 25 students from various culinary schools around New York State. All of which had instructors that were members of the Société. Once we finished, we broke down the entire tent, trays, trash, tables, and chairs, before heading back to the barn to clean some more. Eventually we headed back to school, and I promptly took a 3-hour nap.


Overall it was a good hard-working day. And I must go learn French now.

Être Audacieux (Be Bold in French),




Happy belated Labor Day! If you couldn’t tell from my Instagram (@im_alyon), I went to Canada this weekend! My friends and I woke up at the early hour of 3am this past Saturday, and drove across the border. We drove straight to Niagara Falls, and spent the day there.


After the falls, we got some lunch and I tried poutine for the first time. One of my favorite foods…no my FAVORITE food is French fries. And a close second if not tied for first is cheese. So combine two of my loves with a nice ladle of gravy!? Allison was happy.


Look at all that goodness…

Next we stopped by the Niagara Falls History Museum where we tried on some red coats and drew our self-portraits.

We were staying in the middle of wine country, and since my friend is in the Wines class (and because we like wine), we drove to Cave Springs winery. After a couple $1 wine tastings, we bought ourselves a bottle of Reisling. We also got those tastings for free! (perks of a CIA student).


The next stop was a cheese store (sadly, their cheese was not up to par), and then the quaint town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The architecture and the stores themselves reminded me a lot of downtown Breckenridge, CO. We found the good cheese there, and went to our Airbnb in Hamilton for wine and cheese night.


The next day we ventured to Toronto, parked in High Park, and proceeded to walk endlessly in search of a good brunch…after walking one way and the retracing our steps and walking the other direction, we finally asked a nice local who told us of the strip of restaurants and shops we could find 3 blocks to our right. Huh-zah! We found brunch and man, it was good.

Apparently Canadians don’t put powdered sugar on their French toast…

We went to a place called Coffee and all that Jazz (sadly no jazz was heard) for a devo and some much needed rest after all the walking and eating we did. There was an awesome used book store down the street with an incredible culinary collection, so we spent time in there and talked to the guy at the register about his favorite local spots. We walked all the way down the street and back, taking notice of all the milk stores and fruit stands…and I hadn’t seen many coffee shops before this, but there was one just about every other store on this street.

As the sun started to set, we went back to the park and saw Shakespeare in the Park while sitting on a very steep incline and enjoying our college-budgeted pb&j sandwiches.

Trying not to slide down the hill…

cider-mill-donutThe following morning, we said goodbye to Canada and crossed back over the border. However, we took a different route and went to a The Cider Mill. Sadly, they were done making donuts for the day, and no cider production either, but that didn’t stop us from buying some for the road! We got back to campus around 8pm, just enough time to prepare for class the following day.

It was Day 21 of Fundamentals for me, and we made roasted chicken! We also graded ourselves. I am much harder on myself. I already knew this about myself, but seeing the numbers I scored myself on each component was still a bit shocking. It was my lowest scoring day in Fundamentals thus far, but probably some of my best food. I will always strive for perfection though…

roast chicken.JPG
Roasted chicken with roasted rosemary potatoes, sautéed broccoli rabe, ratatouille, and pan gravy. 

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Be Bold,