The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park NY provides a top notch education for students wishing to enter the food and beverage industry. An integral part of their curriculum is an on site opportunity to "work" at one of three restaurants: American fare, French and Italian. We chose the Italian named Caterina di Medici. Dining room tables require an advanced reservation; however, we learned that the less formal dining area near the bar generally has room for walk ins. Students serve, work in the kitchen, work as greeters and managers in training and generally do everything that is expected of working in/owning a restaurant. They can choose one of two career paths: a two year Associate Program with a concentration in food services or a four year program with a combination food services and academic component. The food is essentially a tasting menu: today's was all pasta (home made). The pasta day is not for the feint of heart nor is it for the weak of heart since cheeses are an essential part of this menu. Lunch included six courses, five pastas and desert. One glass of wine is included. It is price fixed and includes a gratuity. Ditto dinner. This is a trip worth making for a number of reasons: the food is excellent, the service is impeccable (after all, everyone is getting graded by the on site professor/manager an absolutely delightful gentleman!) and Hyde Park is a lovely community with a number of sites worth visiting. It's also a quick twenty minute ride from the charming village of Rhinebeck, home of America's oldest INN, but that's a story for another time!
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