Culinary Institute of America Alumni Profile: Katie Ferris
From Food is Life, Culinary Institute of America’s School Blog.
Job Title: Executive Chef/Owner, Zoe’s Ice Cream Barn
Location: LaGrangeville, NY
Katie Ferris was raised on a farm in Poughquaq, NY, and spent years volunteering and working with the Dutchess County 4-H club. Agriculture was her first love but as she grew older Katie developed an affinity for baking and pastry. “Growing up in the same county as The Culinary Institute of America I knew about the school and often visited the restaurants on campus,” Katie recalls. “I thought the CIA would be the perfect place to combine my two passions.”
“I loved the hands on teaching and working with the customers at CIA’s The Apple Pie Bakery Café,” she continues. “The program is well laid out and broken down into blocks of time. You build your skills with each class as you work your way through the curriculum and you get real life experiences so you know what to expect in the professional world.”
After completing her CIA associate degree, Katie continued her studies in baking and pastry arts management. “The bachelor’s program was something that appealed to me from the beginning,” Katie says. “I went on an amazing trip to Spain and developed a business plan for the Introduction to Entrepreneurship class, which formed the basis for Zoe’s Ice Cream Barn. I always planned on owning my own business and the bachelor’s degree provided me with the skills to set that dream in motion.”
To get some practical experience Katie worked at Heinchons Ice Cream House in Pawling, NY, first making ice cream with one of the owners then taking over responsibility for all of the store’s creations. All the while, Katie and her father were solidifying plans for Zoe’s. “We brought in a reclaimed horse barn from a Mennonite community in Pennsylvania then added a porch all the way around so patrons could sit outside and enjoy the ice cream,” Katie says. “We formed a partnership with Hudson Valley Fresh, a co-op of 10 dairy farms in Dutchess, Ulster, and Columbia counties, and use the milk exclusively for our ice cream. All of our dairy products go from farm to store in 36 hours. It’s their product that makes our ice cream so good.”
Happily, Zoe’s Ice Cream Barn has been busy right from the start. “It’s great for families and it’s right next to the high school,” Katie says. “We just got our wholesale license and our ice cream will now be available at local farms. We recently starting serving hamburgers utilizing local meat from JSK Livestock in Millbrook, NY, as well as French fries, sandwiches, apple crisps, and pies for the holidays.” Katie is certainly in her element—a local chef supporting area farmers and offering delicious creations made from the freshest ingredients. Sweet indeed.