Vegetarians and Culinary School

I had a question from a commenter about the possibility of attending culinary school while maintaining a vegetarian diet and thought I would address it here. I asked the same question of my chef when even I, callous carnivore that I am, couldn’t stand the thought of ingesting any more animal protein after an arduous class featuring forcemeats. She said that many vegetarians do come through the program but that they do so without tasting much of what is being cooked. There are no veggie-alternative recipes in any of the classes so far (beyond suggestions of substitutes for bacon – smoked turkey necks) and I feel like it would be a waste of money to go through school without tasting what you’re cooking. It’s pretty much the point. In higher levels of the program (five and six to be exact) students work in the restaurant L’Ecole, and if on the veg station – entremetier – they will prepare a vegetarian dish each night of their own choosing. It’s one of the few areas of service where students get to exert their own creativity, which is fun and a chance to show off a bit. Other than that and maybe pastry, there’s not a lot of veggie friendly learning.

I may be an avid burger eater, but I am still down with the alternative protein set (I try to feed my vegan friend Amanda monthly- vegans need yummy food too!) so I looked up a couple of places that do vegetarian/vegan/macrobiotic/any other alternative foodie stuff chef instruction:

The Moosewood Collective is one of the most well known vegetarian focused restaurants in the country and they offer chef development classes as well as recipe and menu development courses.

The Natural Gourmet School sounds neat, and while I hadn’t heard of it until now, I recognize some of the alumni, most notably Alex Jamieson, fiance of Morgan Spurlock and of “Super Size Me” fame. Her website is pretty cool too – I might have to go on that Great American Detox Diet after culinary school (I have already gained five pounds – shoot me now.)

Those seem to be the two most reliable looking places in the NY area (that my lazy googling self could find anyway). If any readers know of other spots that specialize in vegetarian or vegan culinary instruction, let me know about it in the comments.

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