The changing face of culinary arts

With the pop culture revolution ignited by the original, rebelliously reluctant ‘celebrity’ chef – Marco Pierre White – the art of cooking, something once hidden away within the backbreaking heat and chaos of the kitchen – was finally revealed to the outside world – and hasn’t stopped fascinating us since.

The world we’re living in today is vastly different from the one that saw the rise of the celebrity chef and culinary craze phenomenon. It’s a present that’s full of opportunity, innovation and flexibility. Inspired by the culinary greats, more young talents are choosing to make their mark on the world of gastronomy than ever before – and they’re doing so in a dynamic and rapidly evolving world. With culinary arts making itself more accessible to us all, is it time for culinary education to take on a new face to keep up with changing perceptions of the profession?

Nurture creativity

The style of teaching in the culinary world has remained greatly unaltered for generations. Teaching the art of theory and practice is something that can be imparted with a unique style, with the underlying foundations – just like the fundamental basics of gastronomy – remaining the same across any institute across the globe. The question that does arise, however, is how to adapt the culinary curriculum for a successful future in a world that has changed so rapidly since the establishment of its foundations?

There’s much more to becoming a chef than just donning crisp whites and running a kitchen straight out of culinary school. The age-old ritual of climbing the ranks notwithstanding, those with a passion for culinary arts need to possess much more than just technical skills if they hope to forge a path for themselves in the culinary world.

If we wish to help produce more revolutionary talent for tomorrow’s industries, it’s imperative for institutions to brush the dust off their curriculums and revisit the drawing board.

Choosing to pursue culinary arts is about pushing the boundaries of food as we know it. It’s about putting together new combinations. It’s about embracing the unexplored and putting it on a plate. The formative years are crucial for students, and it’s important for institutes to provide them with a space to explore and find their own footing and style before they enter into a professional kitchen. From open kitchen hours to self-study workshops, it’s imperative to give culinary students a safe space to create, experiment, make mistakes, and find their unique edge.

Foster entrepreneurs

Throughout my own career, my driving strength has been a strong, underlying entrepreneurial spirit. Having an entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t necessarily mean culinary graduates are all required to establish their own restaurants right out of school or become the next big thing on TV. Having an entrepreneurial mindset ticking at the back of your mind at all times is your innovation.

It’s your ability to think outside the box. It’s about finding new solutions to age-old dilemmas. It’s your drive to do better. All of these are qualities that are fantastic to have in any industry – but can be absolutely crucial in the world of food. Students of today need to learn how to head a team just as much as the secret to a perfect
hollandaise. And, economics and entrepreneurship alongside the art of entremets.

Today’s students need a strong
foundation of business as much as a flawless grasp of the French classics – and it’s time we begin offering that education to them.

Make a change to see a change

The world we’re seeing today isn’t the one Antony Bourdain or Gordon Ramsay rose to stardom in. It’s a new chapter of talent that has more potential to learn and excel than ever before. Millennial chefs are already breaking down boundaries and re-imagining traditional cuisine and pushing it into the future as we’ve never seen before.

The talent we have in our own country is fresh and determined – and it’s inspiring the up and coming generation of culinary artists.

While there’s no doubt that India is already on the culinary map as a hotspot, the potential to completely revolutionise perceptions lies in our hands and the way we prepare the next generation of culinary talent.

It’s time to rethink the skills we’re
teaching them and the tools we’re leaving them with once they step out of our institutes’ doors. While there’s little that can be done to change destiny, ensuring that graduates are flexible, change-ready and think outside the box, we’re looking at a gorgeous culinary future for our country and the world.

 (The author is with Indian School of Hospitality, Gurugram)

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The changing face of culinary arts

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