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Bao Trend Behind Latest Student Pop-Up At The CIA


THE BEST-KEPT SECRET at The CIA (aka The Culinary Institute of America) may be The Egg, a food court-style student dining hall that also is open to the public. The fare is elevated street-food at street‑level prices.

One of the dining stations is a student-designed, student-run pop-up that changes each semester.

This spring, Bao Town is coming to The Egg.

The menu is built around the bao, a Taiwanese open-face steamed bun with a filling (traditionally roasted pork belly, pickles and scallions). But, expect to find more adventurous expressions of the steamed bun here. Developing the recipes, students are experimenting, using everything from waffle irons to pasta machines and deep fryers to test the boundaries of bao. “We want to take it to the limits of where it can go,” says Carson Moreland, a senior student in the program. “We don’t want to be a boring concept.”

Think: southern fried chicken bao with slaw and smoky, spicy aioli; jerk chicken bao (oven-roasted chicken, crispy plantain chip, and grilled pineapple salsa). What about a bao ice cream sandwich—deep fried, rolled in cinnamon sugar and filled with vanilla ice cream?

The pop-up is the most recent project of the school’s Intrapreneurship Program that puts junior and senior students through the paces of conceiving, pitching and producing a restaurant—start to finish. The aim: fostering business innovation skills.

In the program, begun in 2015, students, working in groups, develop quick-service restaurant concepts that they believe will appeal to the discerning palates of fellow students and faculty. In a competition reminiscent of Shark Tank, the students pitch their concepts to a panel of industry experts. Once a winner is selected, the entire class takes a semester to develop the concept from recipes to staffing, materials and marketing, and the concept is launched at The Egg.

Students, faculty (and the general public) can start enjoying bao at The Egg in mid-May.

The Culinary Institute of America
1946 Campus Dr, Hyde Park
(845) 905-4747; ciachef.edu

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is back this April 8-21!