Ushering in a new era of advanced techniques and innovation for chefs, the first group of culinary science majors at the CIA graduated in May.
"The CIA culinary science major offers a unique perspective into the world of food," says Kristin McGinn '14, who just earned her bachelor's degree and accepted an internship with McCormick spices. "The program uses a dual teaching style with both a scientist and chef in each class. Because of this, we learned the in-depth science behind food while getting lessons on how to create and balance flavors at the same time."
While a connection between cooking and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education may not seem obvious at first glance, it is a natural fit, according to Professor Jonathan Zearfoss. "Culinary science is truly interdisciplinary," he says. "Students use scientific methodology, math skills, and state-of-the-art technology to enhance their understanding of the culinary medium and subsequently the innovative foods they prepare."
Graduates are prepared for success in the world’s most advanced restaurants and in the research kitchens of leading foodservice companies. Members of the first graduating class have taken positions at Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, recently named the world’s best restaurant; Firmenich, the world’s largest privately owned flavor and fragrance developer; and doing consumer research at Campbell’s Soup and food technology at Sweet Street.
The program is built on the CIA's foundation of core culinary techniques and consists of junior- and senior-year studies. Since McGinn and eight classmates began the program in early 2013, interest has been growing rapidly. Fifty students now major in culinary science at the CIA.