Binghamton University Dining Services provides industry experience for Culinary Institute of America students
In addition to the over 18,000 students currently enrolled at Binghamton University, one additional student was excited to come to campus this fall to get hands-on experience and contribute to the campus community through a new externship program with Binghamton University Dining Services (BUDS). Chris Ortiz, a sophomore at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in applied food studies and hopes to work in high-volume food production in the future, making BUDS — which feeds thousands of students each day — an ideal externship site.
“I like the structure of college dining,” said Ortiz. “The predictability of coming into the kitchen knowing you have to make X amount of food, for X amount of people, in X portion sizes, and having all of the ingredients needed available in the kitchen — it just feels very natural to me.
Fall 2022 is the first semester BUDS has served as an approved CIA externship site, a process initiated by Campus Executive Chef Charlie Williams.
“First and foremost, I wanted to strengthen our culinary operations on campus to provide the best quality food possible to our students,” said Williams, “but I also knew this could potentially lead to hiring some of the externs, once they finish their education, to become our future leaders.”
Becoming a CIA externship site is no easy task. BUDS had to create a 14-week course for the extern and had to submit sample menus and a video of daily operations to make the cut as one of the 2,000+ externship sites around the world that are available to CIA students.
During Ortiz’s externship, BUDS culinary professionals will provide him with mentorship and real-life experience in the culinary field, exposing him to different positions in the kitchen, from entry level to managerial roles. The goal of the externship, a requirement of his degree program, is to help Ortiz develop his skills in multiple areas and gain insight into which culinary field he would like to pursue in the future.
Ortiz’s culinary journey began when he was 12 years old and his middle-school class toured the local vocational school, Lehigh Career and Technical Institute (LCTI) in Schnecksville, Pa., to learn about the various programs of study that were available. He didn’t truly connect with any of them until they reached the kitchen.
It was “all of the kitchen gadgets” that really caught his eye, he said — he just had to learn more! After graduating from high school, Ortiz received ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification and an S/P2 Culinary Skills Certificate from LCTI before beginning his course of study at the CIA.
Now that the partnership is firmly established, BUDS hopes to continue to partner with the CIA to mentor more externs in the future.