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Major U.S. Culinary Schools Get Serious About Plant-Based Cooking

Two of the biggest culinary schools in the United States—the Institute of Culinary Education and the Culinary Institute of America—are making waves as they place new focus on plant-based cooking.

In January, the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) announced it would be joining forces with the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI), the first plant-based cooking school to be nationally accredited in the U.S., to offer a new degree in Health-Supportive Culinary Arts. And this May, the Culinary Institute of America will organize The Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit, a strategic leadership conference for established food professionals in Napa, California.

Health-Supportive Culinary Arts Program at the Institute of Culinary Education’s Natural Gourmet Center
The first students enrolled in ICE’s new Health-Supportive Culinary Arts program started classes this month in New York City. The program launched in January, when ICE announced it had licensed NGI’s health-supportive, plant-based curriculum to offer an accredited culinary diploma at the newly formed Natural Gourmet Center. “Licensing NGI’s curriculum and working with their faculty not only enhances what we do at ICE; it also brings a great cultural aspect to the program. With ICE’s facilities and technical expertise in the culinary arts combined with NGI’s ethos and plant-forward approach to food, it’s a great marriage,” explains Richard Simpson, ICE’s vice president of education.

The program will be offered exclusively at both ICE’s New York and Los Angeles campuses (the West Coast launch is slated for April), and many of NGI’s former faculty members will bring decades of plant-based cooking experience to the new center. “The time is right, the place is right, and the instructors are ready,” says chef-instructor Richard LaMarita. “The NGI program will most certainly blossom and come into its own at ICE while reaching more students.”

Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit at the Culinary Institute of America
Billed as a think tank for food industry professionals, the Culinary Institute of America’s (CIA) conference, to be held May 1–3 in Napa, California, aims to help chefs make plant-forward dining the norm. “As the food industry seeks a healthier, more flavorful, and sustainable future, chefs and other food service professionals want to learn about menu strategies that leverage vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and plant proteins in leading roles,” explains program director Anne McBride, Ph.D.

The summit is just one of the ways the school is spreading the word about plant-forward cuisine. “The CIA will be introducing a three-tiered professional development certification in plant-forward culinary arts and anticipates adding plant-forward curriculum to its undergraduate programs in the future,” says McBride. “Plant-forward is much more than a trend—it’s an industry imperative.”

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about the author

Mary Margaret Chappell

When Mary Margaret Chappell first started out in the plant-based food world as a writer, editor, and recipe developer, she was a bacon-loving former pastry chef who didn’t think she could ever cook without butter. Fourteen years, four cookbooks, dozens of cooking classes, and hundreds of recipes later, her favorite thing in the world is sharing the tips, techniques, and recipes that show just how easy and delicious whole-food, plant-based cooking can be. The former food editor of Vegetarian Times magazine has done away with her dependency on butter and is honing her skills at baking with natural sweeteners. 

Mary Margaret lives in France, where plant-based eating can often be a challenge, but the fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes available are simply amazing.

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