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Tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?

When Prateek Sadhu ’11 traveled halfway across the globe to study at the CIA’s (Culinary institute of America) Hyde Park campus, his family was concerned. If a family member moves to another town, let alone another continent, there is always a fear that they will never come home again.

That was not Prateek’s intention, however. “I knew I would return to India because I had a long-term dream of running my own restaurant—one that would put India on the international culinary map.” But before he could do that, Prateek says, “I knew I had to train with the best faculty and get the best quality culinary educationanywhere.”

What did you study?

Before coming to CIA, i did my Bachelor’s in Hotel Management from IIHM Gurdaspur, India and Master’s in Food Service Management (Cornell University).

How was the experience at CIA?

It is true that being an international student brings with it some specific challenges. Besides missing family, culture shock is what most international students tend to experience. Everything can feel just a bit foreign. But Prateek says he felt warm support almost from the moment he started the application process, and, soon, the foreign became the familiar.

With valuable foodservice experience already under his belt, Prateek opted for the CIA’s Advanced Career Experience (ACE) associate degree, which allowed him to complete his degree in just 15 months. When talking about his experience as an ACE student, Prateek reflects with pride on being part of the student team that competed at the 2011 American Culinary Federation National Convention in Texas. Winning two gold medals and taking second place overall was great, but what Prateek remembers most is the dedication and support he felt from his CIA faculty coaches—Chefs Brad Barnes, David Bruno, John Reilly, and Stéphane Weber.

As hard as he worked and as much as he pushed himself, Prateek always found time for fun. He remembers one snowy winter day when he and his friends grabbed baking trays and spent the afternoon sledding down the hill behind the college—no doubt, a unique experience for someone from India.

What was your career path after graduation?

After graduating from the CIA, Prateek wanted to train under one of America’s top chefs before returning home, so he worked for Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in Yountville, CA and then Per Se in New York City. This opportunity was open to him because of his personal dedication and his CIA education.

Now back in India, Prateek says his CIA degree, exposure to competitions, and U.S. work experience helped him land a job as senior sous chef at the ultra-exclusive Leela Palace Udaipur. He is well on the way to achieving his dream of creating Indian fare at the highest level of execution—elevating it to its rightful place among other world cuisines.