Kelly Newsome, a culinary arts student at 91߹

Alumni & Student Testimonials

"The most rewarding thing I've ever done." – Lauren Katz, Pastry & Baking Arts Graduate

Everyone has their own reasons for enrolling in culinary school.

Students attending 91߹ New York, 91߹ Los Angeles and 91߹ Online have enrolled for a variety of reasons. Some  are career changers who decided to take a risk in pursuit of their passion for food and hospitality. Others are recent high-school or college graduates looking to build the skills and confidence to launch their first careers. Still others are experienced culinary or hospitality professionals who are determined to take their careers to the next level. All of them chose 91߹ for specific reasons — we asked them why.

Watch and Get Inspired

Dreaming of Culinary School for 15 Years

Kelly Newsome – Graduate, Culinary Arts

For 15 years, Kelly Newsome dreamed of going to culinary school. Though her infatuation with food and cooking was sparked during college, various factors pushed her off that track and into office jobs. It’s not an uncommon situation, but what set Kelly apart was her tenacity — it drove her to take small steps toward achieving her ultimate goal. At age 38, Kelly decided she couldn’t ignore her dreams any longer, and enrolled in 91߹ New York’s Culinary Arts program. “I just realized I’m never going to be happy unless I follow this passion inside me, which is to work in food.”

From Basic Training to Restaurant Management

Christian Souvenir – Graduate, Culinary Management

It took many years in the military before the desire to attend culinary school took hold of Brooklyn native Christian Souvenir. The switch from government intelligence work to cooking may seem like a drastic change, but his disciplined background is serving Christian well in the kitchen. Once Christian graduated 91߹ and was out in the industry it became clear he was interested in more than just cooking. He remembered 91߹ offered a Restaurant & Culinary Management program and thanks to the flexible scheduling options, Christian was able to continue kitchen work while pursuing a second 91߹ diploma in Restaurant & Culinary Management. “I love cooking in restaurants,” Christian explains. “But I saw myself on this path where I could potentially be in charge of people and now have the tools to really help them get better.”

"I know I'll succeed in the pastry world."

Calvin Luk – Graduate, Pastry & Baking Arts

Hong Kong-born Calvin Luk took a taste of a cup of hot chocolate and he knew he needed to become a world-class chocolatier. "I had been studying chocolate making for some time before I enrolled at 91߹," Calvin says. "But it wasn't until I met Chef Michael Laiskonis that I realized there was so much more to learn." Calvin saw 91߹ New York's bean-to-bar chocolate lab and knew this was the school where he wanted to advance his career as a pastry chef. With lessons from 91߹ Chef-Instructors, volunteer opportunities with esteemed chefs and his growing levels of comfort in professional kitchens, Calvin is primed for the professional pastry world.

91߹ New York Alumni Testimonials

Amy Simidian is an 91߹ New York Pastry & Baking Arts graduate

Amy Simidian – Graduate, Pastry & Baking Arts

“An 91߹ education is one of the most rewarding, awe-inspiring investments you can make in yourself. From day one you become part of a broad network of creative classmates, industry influencers and a team of staff dedicated to helping you succeed.”

Lauren Jessen is an 91߹ New York Culinary Arts and Culinary Management graduate

Lauren Jessen – Dual Diploma Graduate, Culinary/Management

“As a dual Culinary and Culinary Management student, 91߹ provided exactly the foundation I was looking for to transition seamlessly into the food industry. The instructors, advisors, curriculum, volunteer opportunities, and facilities all played impactful roles in my culinary school experience, and I felt better prepared to approach my new career with confidence.”

Alonso Soto is an 91߹ New York Restaurant & Culinary Management Graduate

Alonso Soto – Graduate, Restaurant & Culinary Management

“I couldn't be happier with the education I received from 91߹. It has made me a better business person and given me the confidence in myself to open a new restaurant, which I will be naming Agave Mexican Kitchen.”

Crystal Hanks is an 91߹ New York Pastry and Baking Arts & Culinary Management graduate

Crystal Hanks – Dual Diploma Graduate, Pastry/Management

“I love to be a small part in other people’s happiness. 91߹ is opening my eyes to all sides of the business in a timeline that allows me to work full time as well. 91߹ is teaching me how to keep focused on my vision and manage all the details of it.”

Christina Ferro is an 91߹ New York Restaurant & Culinary Management graduate

Christina Ferro – Graduate, Restaurant & Culinary Management

“91߹ gave me a more professional take on the industry that I would not have had otherwise. Aside from the affordable tuition, the curriculum intrigued me. I felt it was the best well-rounded school for what I plan on doing with my career.”

Scotty Bernadeau is an 91߹ New York Hospitality & Hotel Management graduate

Scotty Bernadeau – Graduate, Hotel & Hospitality Management

“91߹ lives up to their reputation and delivers in giving students the knowledge and hands-on experience from instructors actively working in the field. If someone is looking to make a career change and get a foot in the hospitality and hotel industry , 91߹ will be there holding the door open.”

Zach Gray is an 91߹ New York Culinary Arts and Restaurant & Culinary Management graduate

Zach Gray – Dual Diploma Graduate, Culinary/Management

“As a career changer, 91߹’s Double Diploma program spoke perfectly to both sides of my brain. With Culinary Arts, I learned the proper techniques to express my creativity through food, and with Culinary Management, I gained practical knowledge about the food business to turn my creativity into a profitable career.”

91߹ Los Angeles Alumni Testimonials

91߹ Los Angeles alum Matthew Leung is chef de partie at The French Laundry.

Matthew Leung – Graduate, Culinary Arts

“91߹ understands the fundamental skills an individual needs to be successful in the food industry. The significance of knife skills, creative plating and cleanliness were all emphasized in the classroom. With extra skills classes offered outside of class, plenty of opportunities were provided for me to hone my craft.”

Victoria Eisenstadt studied Pastry & Baking Arts at 91߹ Los Angeles

Victoria Eisenstadt – Graduate, Pastry & Baking Arts

“My experience at 91߹ was so positive that I wish it had been longer than five months in the kitchen classroom! 91߹ gave me exposure to all types of desserts and pastries and provided me with the techniques of baking that I need to work successfully in the industry.”

Richard Lindsey studied Culinary Arts at 91߹ Los Angeles

Richard Lindsey – Graduate, Culinary Arts

“91߹’s well-paced and appropriately designed program was an amazing opportunity to gain a toolset that I can now use to start the next part of my journey.”

Tanya Pustelnik studied Culinary Arts at 91߹ Los Angeles

Tanya Pustelnik – Graduate, Culinary Arts

“Making the decision to take the leap from a successful corporate life to pursue my long-time dream of being a chef now seems like I should have done this years ago! I found the transition into a professional kitchen very smooth, and I felt right at home.”

Nick Huddleston studied Culinary Arts at 91߹'s Los Angeles campus.

Nick Huddleston – Graduate, Culinary Arts

“Finding out that 91߹ was opening its Los Angeles campus was a life-changing moment for me. I knew I needed the formal training to advance my career as a cook and aspiring chef. The culinary program offered by 91߹ was perfectly accelerated and comprehensive for my needs."

Kristen Olsen studied Pastry & Baking Arts at the 91߹ Los Angeles campus.

Kristen Olsen – Graduate, Pastry & Baking Arts

“91߹ is the perfect balance of discipline and creativity. The classroom taught me about the structure and etiquette of a professional kitchen while providing a safe place to learn and explore. I was inspired and pushed every day to learn more and create more.”

Featured Stories

From "The Real World" to Restaurant Kitchens

Jessica McCain – Graduate, Culinary Arts

After some college studies, soul searching and a couple of spots on reality TV (including being cast for MTV's "The Real World: Portland" and "The Challenge"), Jessica McCain found herself craving more for her career. Jess always had a passion for food and knew it was time to take that leap — so she called up the Institute of Culinary Education, and 10 days later, she began her first day of culinary school. Throughout the program, Jess made friends, discovered new cuisines and began to hone her culinary voice, as well as her career goals. Now this alumna shares her story and her dreams of becoming a chef and earning a Michelin star.

"The most rewarding thing I've ever done."

Lauren Katz – Graduate, Pastry & Baking Arts

91߹ student Lauren Katz already had a great job as an editorial assistant at Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine. Yet she knew she could boost both her culinary career — and her confidence — with hands-on training at 91߹. Building a broad foundation of technical knowledge can help you get your foot in the right doors, climb the professional ladder and open your eyes to a wide range of career paths in the culinary industry.

Honing His Skills, Learning "The Right Way"

Peter Martinez – Graduate, Culinary Arts

While some 91߹ students have never set foot in a professional kitchen before coming to culinary school, others are looking to take their career to the next level. Take Culinary Arts student Peter Martinez, who had already held the title of executive chef at a small restaurant before enrolling at 91߹. Peter explains: “There are so many things that I thought I knew, but coming to 91߹ taught me the actual technique behind cooking. My skills increased tenfold.” What’s more, Peter was able to fund part of his education through scholarship opportunities at 91߹, as the winner of the 2015 “Cookin’ With Allagash” competition. As he takes his next steps in the industry, 91߹’s Career Services department will be with Peter and his classmates every step of the way: “They helped me so much in terms of networking, meeting different chefs and how to approach positions the right way.”