While there are “tried and true” standards in culinary education like knife skills, sanitation, and seasoning, the field continues to progress. Changing consumer trends, advancing technologies, and the needs of today’s students mean schools must respond with new programming and curriculum to stay current.
This is what we see as the future of culinary education, and how we at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts are evolving to meet these new demands.
Focus on Sustainability and Local Food Production
Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword. It’s an important philosophy to embrace as we move forward toward a greener future.
With limited natural resources on our planet, a view toward sustainability helps us to ensure that we protect our biodiversity while still producing enough food for our global population.
All of our cooking and dining decisions have an impact on the larger food ecosystem. The further food has to travel to reach us, the more energy is consumed and waste is produced. That doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy foods from around the world. But it does mean that using local alternatives when possible helps us to reduce our overall footprint.
Preventing food waste is another vital piece of this puzzle. 80 billion pounds of food reach landfills each year, where decay creates methane and carbon dioxide. In fact, food waste in landfills accounts for 7% of global greenhouse gases.
Future cooks must be educated on the importance of sustainability and food waste, so they can be part of the solution. While shopping local and reducing waste on the consumer end also helps, the sheer volume of product purchased and used in a restaurant means that each cook or chef has the chance to make a major impact when they choose to support environmentally-conscious farmers and artisans.
“After my experience at Escoffier, I noticed a huge change in my business. I’m definitely more focused on waste management. I’m making more things from scratch instead of just buying them pre-bottled, using even the remains of vegetables and meats to blend and make marinades and stock.”
Nahika Hillery, Austin Culinary Arts Graduate and Chef/Owner of Kreyòl Korner Caribbean Cuisine
At Escoffier, Culinary Arts students study these concepts in the six-week Farm to Table® Experience. This course helps students to understand the relationship between the food producer and the chef, and the global impact of farming, ranching, and fishing.
On-campus students will work with local farmers and/or food producers to better understand the nature of the local food economy, and online students will have the opportunity to participate in weekend workshops.
Balance Between Tradition and Innovation
Classical cooking education has a long history. Since much of modern western cuisine is based on French technique, these methods are an important part of the culinarian’s skillset. They create the foundation of many modern cooking styles, even if you’re not cooking French food.
But too much focus on the past can make cooks rigid and uninventive. Today’s chefs use modern technologies that the French masters never dreamed of. The very nature of a chef’s career has changed, with many stepping out of the kitchen and taking a more active role in the business and marketing sides of the food world.
Culinary education needs to walk a fine line between the traditional and the innovative, encouraging students to try new things and experiment in the kitchen.
“I work with 15 other chefs; that’s so much knowledge in one building. The students will teach me, too. Mistakes can turn into cool stuff and sometimes students bring knowledge from another chef in school. It’s very educational on both sides.”
Escoffier Chef Instructor Emily Maddy
At Escoffier, students are encouraged to experiment with new ideas and techniques as they learn. The curriculum can include coursework beyond cooking, like business and finance classes to create well-rounded future employees and business owners.
Beyond what students learn in culinary school, expect to see a shift in how they learn it.
We can do nearly anything online these days — shopping, banking, studying, playing games. Attending culinary school is no different!
Escoffier has been the industry leader in online culinary education, providing the first 100% online program with an industry externship from a nationally accredited culinary school. Students get the same high-quality education from industry-leading Chef Instructors, right from their own homes.
This increased flexibility has opened up a culinary education to students from all over the world and all stages in life. Recent high school graduates, parents of small children, people switching careers, and working chefs who want to increase their skills can all fit culinary school into their busy lives with these online programs.
“I absolutely loved going through Escoffier. It gave me the opportunity to do something that I’ve really wanted to do. When you have a life and a job, and you just can’t quit and go off to a traditional school – especially at my age. So I loved having the opportunity. It was such a good experience for me.”Rhonda Adkins, Escoffier Online Graduate and Food Photographer
The success of this teaching method has proven how important it is to adapt to the changing needs of modern students.
Entrepreneurial and Business Education
Many of today’s young people aren’t interested in having a “job” that will pay the bills. They’re looking for a passion. While culinary school students are all passionate about food, many also dream about going their own way down the path of entrepreneurship.
Barriers to culinary entrepreneurship are lower than ever before. New technology and new service methods are putting entrepreneurship within reach without requiring extensive startup capital.
Food trucks, ghost restaurants, cottage industry bakeries — all are growing in popularity especially during and after the pandemic, and are easier to start than the traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant.
A culinary school education should prepare students for a possible future of entrepreneurship. Even if a student doesn’t have dreams of being the boss, they still need to understand how the business works.
With the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants are paying closer attention than ever to their finances. Diversification of revenue streams will be a major component of the restaurant industry’s future to reduce reliance on in-person dining. As operations grow more complicated, culinary students must be prepared to manage labor and product costs and maximize profits.
Escoffier students take a variety of business-focused courses in their programs. From Foodservice Math & Accounting to Purchasing & Cost Control, these courses help students to see where the kitchen fits into the overall success of a foodservice operation, so they can be better prepared to make smart financial choices.
The Future Is Now
Auguste Escoffier was an innovator and disruptor of the culinary industry. We continue to live up to his name by constantly seeking to update and improve our programs, so we can better prepare future culinarians.
Culinary education is evolving along with the food service industry. The best culinary schools will continue to innovate and make sure they’re teaching the skills that students actually need in their future careers.
If you’re interested in experiencing a culinary education for yourself, contact us for more information.
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