Grilling and BBQ Boot Camps & More with the Culinary Institute of America

By Lynn & Cele Seldon

There’s nothing like the thrill (and smell) of the grill come summer. But grilling and barbequing when camping or at home in your backyard can sometimes mean overcooked chicken, bloody steaks, or burnt vegetables. That’s definitely not the case for those who attend one of the Culinary Institute of America’s popular two-day “Grilling and BBQ Boot Camps” across the country.

Founded back in 1946, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is recognized as the world’s premier culinary college, with more than 50,000 talented alumni situated across the country and around the world. The long list of CIA graduates includes the late Anthony Bourdain, Cat Cora, Michael Symon, Charlie Palmer, Sara Moulton, Bryan Voltaggio, Anne Burrell, Richard Blais, Roy Choi, Maneet Chauhan, Grant Achatz, Geoffrey Zakarian, and many more.

The Culinary Institute of America - exterior of the building
The Culinary Institute of America

However, many people may not know that the CIA also offers a wide variety of cooking classes and more through their popular “CIA Foodies” culinary enthusiasts program at their iconic Hyde Park,
New York, campus, as well as campuses in San Antonio, Texas, and Napa (Copia) and St. Helena (Greystone), California.

According to Chef David Bruno, a professor at the CIA who has been heavily involved for many years with offerings to culinary enthusiasts through their CIA Foodies program, there are many possibilities in-person and at home for the CIA to help RVers cook better anywhere.

Lynn Seldon grilling steaks at CIA
Lynn Seldon grilling steaks at CIA

Along with their Grilling and BBQ Boot Camp, which is offered at CIA’s Hyde Park, San Antonio, and Napa campuses, there are many other multi-day two- to five-day boot camps, including: “Culinary Boot Camp” (our first CIA experience); “The Best of Boot Camp;” “Mediterranean Boot Camp;” “Asian Cuisine Boot Camp;” “Bistro Boot Camp,” “Baking Boot Camp;” “Pastry Boot Camp;” “Farm to Table Boot Camp;” “A Taste of the Hudson Valley Boot Camp” (at the CIA’s Hyde Park Campus in the Hudson Valley); “Wine Country Cuisine Boot Camp” (a new offering at their Napa campus); and many more.

Cele and Lynn Seldon cooking at the CIA
Cele and Lynn Seldon cooking at the CIA

The CIA offers many single-day classes, including hands-on cooking classes, wine and beverage classes, family-friendly offerings, and holiday-specific classes. Those who want just a taste of better grilling techniques should ask about the one-day hands-on CIA offerings called “Everyday Grilling” and “Grilling Like a Pro.”

But the two-day “Grilling and BBQ Boot Camp” provides a more in-depth immersion into the thrill of the grill. As their course description promises, after spending two days in the CIA’s condensed, yet comprehensive “Grilling and BBQ Boot Camp,” you’ll not only be able to grill the perfect steak, but you’ll also be able to hot smoke, barbecue (low and slow cooking), and smoke-roast everything from seafood, meat, and poultry to vegetables, side dishes, and desserts. You’ll also discuss the fundamentals of food and grilling safety, equipment needs (and wants), as well as brines, rubs, marinades, and sauces. Your campsite (and backyard) will be better (and tastier) than ever.

basket of vegetables on a table outside
Farm to Table

This two-day boot camp includes about five hours of hands-on learning each day, with the end of the class reserved for final recipe review and a delicious meal produced during the class. Many participants choose to return to campus and enjoy dinner at a student-staffed CIA restaurant, as well.

CIA students are required to read the CIA’s bible-like book, The Professional Chef, and it’s also a great purchase for RVers to use at home and when camping. Chef Bruno reports that it’s like an intense CIA Boot Camp between two covers. Those looking to improve their grilling game even further will also enjoy Mark Bittman’s How to Grill Everything, Bobby Flay’s Grill It, CIA grad Michael Symon’s Playing with Fire, and many more.

Steak plated on a platter sitting on a table
Thrill of the Grill

Long-time TrailBlazer contributors Cele and Lynn Seldon are professed foodies at home and on the road. They are huge fans of the Culinary Institute of America and have visited all four campuses, including participating in boot camps and other classes, tasty shopping, and have enjoyed many meals in their varied restaurants.

If You Go

Head to the Culinary Institute of America’s website for consumers at www.ciafoodies.com for information about the Grilling and BBQ Boot Camps, other boot camps and classes, tours, campus restaurants, shopping and many other offerings at their campuses in Hyde Park, New York; San Antonio, Texas; and Napa and St. Helena, California.