Culinary News from The Culinary Institute of America

Barcelona Culinary Hub and the CIA present the Sustainable Culinary ThinkLab

Barcelona Culinary Hub, a higher school of gastronomy part of Planeta Formación & Universidades, and the CIA, the premier college of gastronomy based in the United States, are joining forces with a common goal: to promote gastronomic sustainability within food systems that advance planetary health.

The Sustainable Culinary ThinkLab will be a digital space for international cooperation within the gastronomic industry to align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Barcelona, Spain – The Barcelona Culinary Hub (BCH) part of Planeta Formación & Universidades has joined with The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to promote sustainability within the restaurant, foodservice, and related sectors through a virtual platform that will act as a laboratory for sustainable culinary innovation, the Sustainable Culinary ThinkLab. This project will develop a virtual educational branded initiative, whose purpose is to link both expertise and learners in Europe and the Mediterranean, the U.S., Latin America, and beyond.

The Sustainable Culinary ThinkLab is part of a larger collaboration framework between BCH and the CIA to promote cooperation between the two organizations in the fields of research, professional development, and industry impact; and to advance international understanding through educational and intercultural activities and projects involving students, lecturers, and administrative staff at the two institutions. As part of this, the two organizations will carry out joint actions and projects to promote research and innovation in matters of gastronomic sustainability; explore traditional, culturally rooted models for sustainable food and culinary practices and food systems; and engage changemakers in the geographic regions of the two organizations. More specifically, this will include the creation of an observatory on sustainable innovation, the participation of CIA members in select actions of the Barcelona Culinary Hub (such as the advisory committee, among others), as well as the exchange of professionals, academic leaders, and students between institutions. The collaboration framework also includes BCH’s participation in major international culinary events organized by the CIA, such as the Worlds of Flavor® International Conference and Festival and the Global Plant Forward Culinary Summit.

Sustainable Culinary ThinkLab

In recent years, sustainability and planetary health have increasingly become a fundamental pillar for the success of gastronomic projects. In a society with growing awareness of environmental responsibility, the gastronomic sector must respond by offering sustainable solutions through professionalization, digitalization, and the emergence of new gastronomic business models.

In this context and with the aim of promoting sustainability within the industry, Barcelona Culinary Hub and The Culinary Institute of America are launching the Sustainable Culinary ThinkLab Initiative, a space to engage in the most critical issues and dialogues facing gastronomy in the 21st century: those tied to sustainability. In the platform, voices from academia, the public and private sectors, NGOs, gastronomic foundations, chefs, and gastronomic leaders will consider how to change the perceptions and practice of food—including its distribution, preparation, and consumption—to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals set out in the Agenda 2030. The framing and work of the Sustainable Culinary ThinkLab will be further informed by the Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus formulated by the Menus of Change® initiative, a project of The Culinary Institute of America and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—Department of Nutrition, created to advance the business of healthy, sustainable, and delicious food choices. To accomplish this focus and vision, the platform will work on six (6) main axes of discovery: products, people, actions, community and territory, institutions, and technology.

The Sustainable Culinary ThinkLab seeks to innovate and respond to the following needs and opportunities of the sector:

  • Business management and global business vision. Recognizing the immensity of our collective challenge to embed planetary health into our food systems—including the restaurant, foodservice, and related industries—the future of the sector calls for more professional profiles, specialized in management and with a global vision of the needs of the business in all areas, including a firm commitment to sustainability by the different actors involved in the gastronomic sector.
  • Innovation: Innovation is an essential requirement in the business sector and, of course, also in the culinary field. Through education, research, and international cooperation, the Sustainable Culinary ThinkLab will highlight the importance of applying innovation to mitigate the impact of the gastronomy sector on the environment. For this, it is essential to better understand the potential of technology to function as a key ally to shift towards more sustainable, innovative solutions.
  • Evolution towards new feeding and production models. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other expert observers, food still has a long way to go to reflect planetary health imperatives. It is for this reason that education and research are needed where professionals from both the production/supplier community and the restaurant/foodservice community come together to create, disseminate, and promote new sustainable gastronomic models as well as advance regenerative agricultural and food production initiatives.
  • Training as a tool to drive change. Culinary schools have had to rethink educational models to value the importance of incorporating sustainability as a priority within the industry. For this, it is necessary to provide professionals and students in the gastronomic sector with spaces such as the Sustainable Culinary ThinkLab where the importance of working in a sustainable way and promoting environmental awareness and solutions are highlighted and valued.

Photo Caption:

Sustainable Culinary ThinkLab, an initiative by Barcelona Culinary Hub and the CIA. (Photo courtesy: Sustainable Culinary ThinkLab

About Barcelona Culinary Hub

Barcelona Culinary Hub is part of Planeta Formación y Universidades, Grupo Planeta’s international higher education network comprising twenty-two educational institutions from Spain, Andorra, France, Italy, North Africa, the United States, and Colombia. Each year more than 100,000 students of 114 different nationalities are educated at its business schools, universities, specialised colleges, and vocational training centres. For more information, please visit

About The Culinary Institute of America:

The CIA, founded in 1946, is widely regarded as the world’s premier culinary college. Dedicated to developing leaders in food, beverage, and hospitality, the private, not-for-profit college offers bachelor’s and associate degrees with majors in culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, food business management, hospitality management, culinary science, and applied food studies. The CIA’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies offers master’s degrees in sustainable food systems, food business, and wine and beverage management, as well as executive education and certificate programs. Its conferences, leadership initiatives, and consulting services have made the CIA a leading think tank within the food industry, and its worldwide network of more than 50,000 alumni includes innovators in every area of the food world. The CIA has locations in New York (main campus), California, Texas, and Singapore.

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