The Culinary Institute of America at San Antonio is renown for training some of the best chefs in the city, but the pop-up CIA Bakery Café — open from March 9 to April 15 — will give visitors a rare opportunity to see San Antonio’s newest baking and pastry talent in action.

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Opera Cake from CIA Bakery Café. Photo Courtesy of Laura Carroll

The café offers customers a unique and affordable dining experience while providing CIA students with the hands-on training needed to succeed in a bakery. The bakery also fulfills a capstone requirement for CIA baking and pastry arts students, who will graduate in April with their Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees. 

The bakery serves sweet treats like alfajores and savory bites like guava and manchego empanadas and super cranberry walnut scones. The cafe also offers a variety of beverages, including new agua fresca flavors. 

“This gives young chefs real world experience for running a business and a kitchen,” said Certified Master Baker Alain Dubernard. “We’re very happy to be serving the community again, and happy that people are enjoying the new and returning menu (items).”

Dubernard will work with Patrick Clark and instructor Jenny Placette to direct the students, who will be split into two groups: front-of-house and back-of-house. Each group will spend three weeks learning to manage inventory, ensuring product quality and another three weeks working with customers and the overall service.

The last two years of education in the classroom and kitchen have prepared them to work in a bakery, said Dubernard. “This is really a bittersweet ending to their education. But they will leave knowing what they need to do as owners or part of the kitchen and take that with them wherever they go.”

The CIA Bakery Café is located at 312 Pearl Parkway, Suite #2102 at the Pearl Brewery. The café will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information or updates visit

*Top Image: A young CIA chef bakes breads in the kitchen. Photo Courtesy of Laura Carroll.

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Lea Thompson, a former reporter at the Rivard Report, is a Texas native who has lived in Houston, Austin and San Antonio. She enjoys exploring new food and culture events.