Future Chefs to Shape America's Dining Habits

Health and Wellness

The Culinary Institute of America Expands Health and Wellness Focus in Curriculum

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Jeff Levine
Communications Manager

Hyde Park, NY – As students at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) prepare to become the leaders shaping America's future dining habits, they are finding more plant-based foods and whole grains in the teaching kitchens than ever before. CIA students pursuing a bachelor's degree also learn to bring health and wellness to their future customers through courses such as the Science of Nutrition, Flavor Science and Perception, Consumer Behavior, and Foodservice Management in Health Care.

"Health in food has never been sexy. But now it's about foods with great flavor being naturally better," says Chef Brendan Walsh, the CIA's culinary dean. "Maybe our students have never tried red quinoa, farro, wheat berries, or amaranth. Tasting these foods gives them a chance to be creative and see the possibilities of including more plant-based foods in their cooking."

These additions to the curriculum at the world's premier culinary college come out of the CIA's thought leadership conferences, such as "Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives," "Menus of Change," and "Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids." At these summits, industry leaders discuss wellness issues facing American families and how chefs can be part of the solution. The CIA works with the Harvard School of Public Health on several of these initiatives.

"The relationship between what we eat and our well-being is now talked about in the mainstream medical community," Walsh says. "Eating can be a preventative practice, and we in the food world can make a huge difference."

Not every recipe or regional cuisine lends itself to healthier ingredients, though. In those cases, such as barbecue, the CIA teaches that portion size and side dishes can help balance a meal. Examples of making recipes better for you include replacing the cheese and butter in a classic risotto with a white bean purée and vegetables, and introducing brown rice to cuisines where white rice is a staple. Students learn the value of these changes, and realize they can be done without sacrificing flavor.

As quality ingredients become more "center-plate," Walsh notes that chefs will become less reliant on fattening sauces and will simply use herbs or lemon juice to accent already delicious natural flavors. He says employers are more aware of health and wellness, and want graduates who know both how to cook healthier and why it's important.

Photo Caption and Hi-Res Image

Students at The Culinary Institute of America are working with more plant-based foods and whole grains in the college's teaching kitchens. As the next generation of leaders in the food world, these students will be shaping America's future dining habits. (Photo credit: CIA/Keith Ferris)
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Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is an independent, not-for-profit college offering associate and bachelor's degrees with majors in culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and culinary science, as well as certificate programs in culinary arts and wine and beverage studies. As the world's premier culinary college, the CIA provides thought leadership in the areas of health & wellness, sustainability, and world cuisines & cultures through research and conferences. The CIA has a network of 45,000 alumni that includes industry leaders such as Grant Achatz, Anthony Bourdain, Roy Choi, Cat Cora, Dan Coudreaut, Steve Ells, Charlie Palmer, and Roy Yamaguchi. The CIA also offers courses for professionals and enthusiasts, as well as consulting services in support of innovation for the foodservice and hospitality industry. The college has campuses in Hyde Park, NY; St. Helena, CA; San Antonio, TX; and Singapore.

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