The Role of Culinary Schools in the Local Food Movement
By Olivia DeWolfe
According to the National Restaurant Association's annual What's Hot survey, which interviewed around 1,500 chefs, the top three food trends in 2011 are going to be locally sourced meats and seafood, locally grown produce and sustainability. As chefs and foodies alike scramble to learn about these three fundamentals, culinary schools lend a helping hand by incorporating them into their curriculum.
Making the Switch to Local
As customers have become more concerned with their physical health, chefs have had to keep improving their recipes and menus to reflect these needs. Better fats, less salt, smaller portions and organic ingredients are just some of the improvements chefs are making to improve the nutritional value of their food. And in addition to being healthy, this trend toward local food is also socially responsible: it benefits the smaller, family farms and organic producers.
Chefs who are making the switch to local, seasonal ingredients need to know how to work with small producers and plan menus around the varying availability of products, which poses different challenges than simply ordering all of their inventory from one or two national or regional food service distributors. Various classes on this subject are offered in culinary schools.
Campus-Based and Online Culinary Schools Join the Local Food Trend
Culinary degree program regularly update and adapt their curricula to prepare chefs for the changing culinary world. Changing culinary trends, updated nutritional information, or new ingredients all require culinary students to master new techniques and develop new recipes.
You can find traditional and online culinary classes that reflect the need for local and sustainable choices on menus. Sustainability is woven through many kinds of classes in a culinary degree program, including:
- Food, Wine, and Agriculture
- Food Ecology
- Restaurant Operations
- Food Politics
- Food Sustainability
Whether you're choosing from traditional or online culinary degree programs, culinary school can give you the most up-to-date information regarding locally produced ingredients and sustainable practices, preparing you for the needs of contemporary chef jobs in 2011.
About the Author
Olivia DeWolfe is a freelance chef and writer specializing in all things culinary. She's been cooking professionally for 18 years, and currently runs a personal chef business called The Olive Tree.