The practice of culinary arts has to constantly innovate to include dietary trends and offer consumers options for their personal food choices. One current trend that offers a contemporary lens through which to view culinary arts education is veganism. Innovations are now required to produce plant-based cuisine to bridge the gap between traditional culinary arts education and consumer needs. It is also important to discuss the importance of an adaptable curriculum design that can better address future dietary trends.
From being niche, veganism has become almost mainstream and is now seen as ethical food consumption grounded in a concern for the environment, animals and people. Its impact on the curriculum of hospitality education has led the industry into a phase of educating future chefs with multiple plant-based training programmes. Chefs are slowly moving towards highlighting and enhancing vegan and vegetarian options on the menus as plant-and-cereal-based alternatives to meat are being developed. Hotel management institutes are also creating separate curriculums to ensure that students are at the forefront of these developments.
Responsible and sustainable food
A chef’s work is guided by the search for authentic taste, which inspires him/her to constantly create recipes. It is also the responsibility of hospitality institutions to defend the right to eat what we want and what is good for us and for the planet. Today, as this trend matures, it is safe to say that students in hospitality education should be motivated to commit to responsible, sustainable and humanistic food. From this comes the concept of naturalness, a plant-based cuisine composed of grains and seasonal products. The concept of naturalness in the hospitality industry was introduced as consumers became conscious of the environmental consequences of their choices. Hospitality students should also be made aware of dietary issues such as food allergies, gluten sensitivity, and lactose intolerance among others.
Good nutrition is fundamental to health. So, apart from focusing on this aspect, hospitality institutions have to educate students about aspects such as environmental issues in the industry and food wastage. The curriculum should adopt methods that prepare and encourage students to think of creative solutions to embrace new trends and include practical and experiential aspects such as trips to local farms and suppliers that grow organic produce. They should be introduced to concepts such as “farm to table” whereby they learn to prepare dishes that highlight the authentic tastes of these ingredients. Sustainable sourcing and cooking techniques are also crucial. Hospitality institutions have to make these changes in their curriculum and teaching methodology to ensure that students are prepared for the future.
The writer is the Managing Director of École Ducasse.