Evolution of Culinary Education in the country in the last decade

Evolution of Culinary Education in the country in the last decade 04 Jun 2019

Fundamentally, Culinary arts was never considered to be a subject that can be taught in schools or an Education Institue. Hence all chefs in India were either expatriates from Europe or home grown from very selective states like Bengal or Goa. The primary reason for this trend was that originally Kalcutta (as it was then called) was Capital city of British raj in India and Goa was a Portuguese colony and hence at both locations, the locals had acquired culinary skills of Continental cuisine (there were no specific categorisation of County wise European Cuisine) from expatriate chef working for their British or Portuguese masters.

The concept of formal education in culinary arts to train future chefs was non-existent even when I decided to become a chef after completing my 4 years of advance diploma in Hotel Management from IHM PUSA and two years of Management training from Oberoi School of Hotel Administration in the year 1968. To be a chef after having completed my formal education in Hospitality of 6 years, I had to join as a kitchen trainee in Oberoi Intercontinental Hotel New Delhi. There after I was sent to Europe for two-year further training, before I could be called a chef.

Culinary education has come a long way since then. Initially, Hotel Chains like The Oberois and Taj Hotels started their own Kitchen training program, selecting candidates who had completed the three years of Diploma in Hotel Management where culinary skills were taught in a very limited way. The candidates had to go through two years of on the job training in hotel Kitchens, the focus was on learning cooking skills and there was negligible emphasis on class room lectures for Kitchen Management and other related subjects.

With the growth of Hospitality industry and introduction of International Hotel Chains and rising cost of expatriate chefs, the need for establishing Culinary Institutes, focused on training only chefs who would meet and sometimes exceed the International professional standards in Culinary Arts.

Over the past decade, the growing demands for trained chefs and rising status of chefs in the hospitality industry, thanks to legendry chefs like Padamshree Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and arrival of chef Vikas Khanna, have changed the complete profile of young boys and girls seeking career in culinary arts.

The International Institute of Culinary Arts, New Delhi was launched in the year 2005 with only 5 students. Today, we train over 100 students to become Chefs: Culinary Arts or Patisserie Arts. Over the years, profile of students has changed dramatically. A career as chef is no more a domain of boys only and at IICA, the ratio of Girls to Boys is 60% vs 40% Quite a large number of students are career changers and come with the background of Lawyers, doctors, Mechanical engineers and MBA’s. Of course, we do have 18 years old who have just completed their 10+2 and are totally committed to the culinary profession as a career.

The other change is the increasing demand from hotels and restaurants seeking young pass out for direct entry as commis, Kitchen Management trainees, business partners and even content writers for established columnists who write for leading newspapers etc. The delivery of culinary education has also changed from only teaching of culinary skills to management of Kitchen operations, financial management of Kitchen, HACCB etc.

The most dynamic change is the willingness of senior and professional career chefs to leave the industry and join the culinary Institute as faculty members as full-time career. The other significant change is the demand from commercial organisations to seek the support of culinary Institute’s knowledge and research capability in developing their new products.

The most recent and very heartening change is demand from professional chefs from country like Japan to seek culinary Institute’s knowledge support in developing selected Indian curry recipes to be manufactured in Japan through VEDIO recipes and sold under IICA banner.

The change and demand for culinary Institute is limitless, we just need to keep the management and faculty at the culinary Institutes research oriented, contemporary in knowledge and positive in attitude. 

Virender Singh Datta
Founder and Chairman
International Institute of culinary Arts, New Delhi

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