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CIA Greystone’s student bakery to reopen

For those searching for a lunch in St. Helena, Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus offers excellent and affordable dining options at their student-run restaurant and bakery. 

The Culinary Institute of America, Greystone in St. Helena will reopen its student-run Bakery Café on Feb. 3. | Photo courtesy Culinary Institute of America at Greystone

For those searching for a lunch in St. Helena, Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus offers excellent and affordable dining options at their student-run restaurant and bakery. 

As the 2024 spring semester ramps back up for students, the Bakery Café re-opens to the public on Saturday, Feb. 3. In addition to the grab-and-go selections, the bakery offers full table service to its lunch patrons from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The café style is casual, with daily offers of soup, salads and sandwiches that range in price from $7 to $12, as well as an array of baked goods that range in price from $3 to $7.

The bakery will join the campus’ other dining experience, the Gatehouse Restaurant, which serves three and four-course tastings each semester and, due to the large student cohort this semester, will be open for lunch as well. 

The learning environment offers a unique culinary experience for diners, and because the CIA is a teaching institute, the restaurants run as nonprofits, which allow them to operate while keeping costs comparatively low in, and meals are gratuity-free.  

Theya Fosset, the CIA’s assistant director of food and beverage, said she believes the CIA restaurants are some of the “best-kept secrets” of Napa Valley dining.

“They're really just classrooms, so we charge a very reasonable price for what I would consider an amazing product,” Fosset said. “You're also giving back to the community and helping to create the learning experience for students.”

The students provide the service, cooking and the menu development, where they work with local ingredients, some of which are grown in the campus garden. Professors are on hand in the restaurants, teaching students in real time as they gain experience working both front and back of house.

The CIA offers two-year associate degrees. Roughly 300 students are enrolled at the school at any time, and of the 300, Fosset said about 70 percent are culinary students and the other 30 percent are baking and pastry students. 

The Bakery Café’s dessert program is headed by pastry chef and CIA professor, Lauren Haas, who oversees the baking and pastry students who work at the bakery in their final semester, creating pastries, croissants, breads, and other baked goods.

At the Gatehouse Restaurant, where diners can choose from a variety of course options on the seasonal prix fixe menu that is created by and cooked by culinary students in their last semester.

The Gatehouse's rotating three-course meal costs $55 and a four-course meal is $65. Sommelier wine pairings can be added for the additional cost of $40 and $50 respectively.

Fosset said that a lot of CIA alumni have gone to work at some of the top restaurants around the world, and that two Greystone graduates were recently nominated for 2024 James Beard Awards.

“A lot of our graduates go directly from here to working in Michelin star restaurants,” Fosset said. “Our graduates definitely go on to be the names that you see in restaurants and that you see on TV.” 

The Bakery Café is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning Saturday, Feb. 3, and the Gatehouse Restaurant is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch and from 5:30 to 8 p.m. for dinner.

Because the restaurants operate on a student class schedule, it is best to check updated hours on the CIA, Greystone website before visiting. Due to limited seating, reservations are recommended.

A chef arranges chocolate confections at the CIA, Greystone's Bakery Café. | Photo courtesy Culinary Institute of America at Greystone

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