My very first experience dining at one of the CIA Restaurant Group’s restaurants, was at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant in Saint Helena, California, just outside of San Francisco. I’ll never forget the experience. A group of us took a weekend trip to Napa Valley to do some wine tasting one of my good friends from high school, who actually now runs a successful water damage service, suggested we go eat there. He was introduced to the restaurant a couple of years before by his girlfriend at the time. On Saturday, he was raving about the food all day during our wine tasting adventures at the Sterling Vineyard and he told me how much he thought we’d all enjoy eating there. So we all agreed to go eat there that night.

On our way there, he explained to us that the restaurant is part of the Culinary Institute of America and the staff is mostly comprised of the students that are attending the school. This sounded interesting. I’ve never really heard about culinary school doing this type of thing but later found out that other culinary schools also have restaurants where the students can get real world experience cooking in the restaurant setting. I thought this concept was brilliant.

We arrived at the CIA. The building was a stone covered beauty. Something out of movie. I guess the look and feel they say they go for is the modern farmhouse feel. What an a amazing experience it would be to go to school here, I thought to myself. We approached the entrance to the restaurant and entered through the red canopy covered door. The friendly staff greeted us and helped us find a table for our party. We opted to sit indoors, although they do have an outdoor dining area in the patio. They had an open kitchen and a fully stocked bar along with an extensive wine selection. So the drinks began to flow. We were after all celebrating a birthday that weekend.