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Q&A with April Goess, Managing Director, The Culinary Institute of America

How long have you been in business or been in your role and what is the thing that gets you out of bed every day?

I have been with the CIA for 20 years, and 35 years in the culinary and hospitality industry. There’s nothing I enjoy more than being a chef and nurturing the next generation of culinary talent. It’s incredibly fulfilling to walk alongside our students throughout their journey, from their very first day to graduation and beyond. The most rewarding moment? Seeing them return after graduating, sharing their stories of success and professional growth, and witnessing their transformation into accomplished chefs.

When you were younger, did you ever see yourself doing what you do now?

Yes! Cooking has always been my calling. In fact, it’s become a family joke that I never even considered a “plan B.” From the time I was a small child, whipping up creations in the kitchen, I knew this was the path for me. So, I’ve never truly “worked” a day in my life, because I’m fortunate enough to pursue my passion every single day.

What would you tell your younger self if you could spend 1 hour with her?

“You’ve got this!” – a mantra I repeat to myself daily, even as I continue to grow and develop. The journey towards greatness is ongoing, and the sense of purpose it brings is truly motivating. Looking back, I would also tell my younger self, “Make it happen!” It’s a simple phrase, but it’s become the driving force behind my continuous growth and pursuit of my goals.

It can be difficult to pinpoint one single woman who inspired you in your life and career. When you step back and think about the multitude of women in your life, what would you say to those who have supported you and been a sounding board in your career?

To the incredible women who shared this journey with me, a heartfelt Thank You. You may not have known at the time, but your presence and support were instrumental in shaping my path. The time we spent together laid the foundation for my success, and I’m forever grateful for your encouragement and unwavering belief in me. You never discouraged me or held me back from becoming the chef I dreamed of being.


Tell us about an ancestor or woman in your family whose story has been passed down to you. 

I’m incredibly fortunate to come from a lineage of strong, smart, and determined women who carved their own paths and defied expectations. These incredible role models, each with their own quiet strength and unwavering spirit, instilled in me the importance of perseverance and believing in myself. They taught me that I, like them, can achieve anything I set my mind to. Hence, the “You’ve got this!” spirit.


What is your personal mission in life and how do you fold that into the work you do? 

My aspirations extend beyond the kitchen. While harboring the unwavering conviction of becoming a chef since childhood, a parallel dream has fueled my journey – to reach 106 years old. I’m still far from this milestone, but the pursuit of a long and fulfilling life motivates me every day.


Beyond the quest for longevity, I’m passionate about empowering the next generation of culinary leaders. Together, let’s embrace boldness. Let’s break the mold, rewrite the rules, and push the boundaries of the hospitality industry. Let’s champion innovative ideas and challenge conventions to redefine what it means to be a successful leader in this ever-evolving landscape.


What is your superpower? 

My superpower is to see the future as if it were the present. I possess a strong ability to approach challenges with foresight and strategic thinking. My analytical mind allows me to uncover underlying patterns and trends, enabling me to anticipate potential roadblocks and opportunities well before they arise. This talent for planning several steps ahead empowers me to develop efficient and adaptable models that optimize processes and consistently drive successful outcomes. 


I believe my ability to plan strategically aligns well with the motivational mantras of “You’ve got this” and “Make it happen.” These powerful affirmations emphasize self-belief and a proactive approach, which are key elements for success.


  • From where do you draw your strength, creativity and stamina to keep going? 

My unwavering self-belief serves as a constant source of strength, creativity, and stamina. This inner conviction fuels my “You’ve got this” attitude, which allows me to approach challenges as stepping stones on the path to success. Rather than obstacles, I view them as integral parts of the learning and growth process. I thrive on working through complex situations and exploring various solutions to achieve optimal outcomes.

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