The Girl with the Knife Tattoos
Sadie Shapiro is in her second semester at The Culinary Institute of America. She is a 19 year old culinary arts major with a specialization in applied food studies with a concentration in Farm to Table. We were quite taken by a photo of her knife tattoo and reached out to learn more. Sadie got her first tattoo a month after she turned 18 and a second one only two months ago. She said a lot of students have knife tattoos at the CIA, and we were intrigued.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania of 5000 people in a nice house in a development of 100 houses. My mom is my biggest fan who cheers me on for everything. My dad had a trucking company where I worked most summers, either on trucks or with invoices. I have two brothers, 11 and 7 years my senior, and five male cousins. I was the loudest and toughest one out of all 8 kids and I visit my hometown frequently now that I’m in school in Hyde Park, New York.
When did you start cooking?
You could say that I started cooking very young. I was six years old in 2010 when I was featured in the national children’s magazine Highlights High Five. But I was always interested in cooking, and don’t know when I truly started being serious. I tried out at 12 and 13 for Master Chef Junior but was cut for not having enough “TV personality.” It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I thought about studying at the CIA.
At the CIA I’m learning ratios over recipes and the why’s of cooking. Everyone is so open to questions and just very helpful.
Who are your influences?
I really looked up to my uncle Stephen, an alumnus of the CIA and now the executive chef for the US Teamsters Washington DC. I was also an admirer of Julia Child when I started thinking about applying to the CIA. After finding my grandmother’s copy of the Mastering the Art of French Cooking I started on the “Julie and Julia” challenge, attempting to cook every recipe in that book. I still love watching Binging with Babish and Joshua Weisman on YouTube.
My family has raspberry and blueberry bushes, four grape vines, and strawberries that we make many jars of jelly with. I dehydrate mint and other herbs, and peppers for the winter. I have many fond memories of spending days with in my grandfather’s garden, growing green beans, tomatoes, carrots, garlic, asparagus, and a lot more.
What other interests do you have?
I had two other schools in mind if I didn’t go to the CIA. I loved the idea of costume designing and getting a degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and I also considered Fordham University for Marketing and Management, with a minor in Russian language.
What are your comfort foods and other favorites?
I find comfort in a lot of German/Polish foods that were cultural influences on me when I was growing up. I LOVE cabbage and noodles, potato pancakes, paczki, creamed cucumbers…The two exotic culinary highlights I remember fondly were a full snapper fried on the beach in Aruba and rice-flavored gelato in a gelateria in Florence, Italy.
I now cook mostly for my family. I like to feed people more than cooking for myself.
What does the future hold for you?
Urban farming takes existing spaces in large cities and flips the use of them. For example, you could have a 20-floor apartment building with hydroponic farms set up on the third floor. I learned about aquaponics –raising fish in a controlled environment– from my sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Lynott. I was totally fascinated by it and then I later learned about hydroponics in high school.