Culinary school curriculum traditionally includes foundational elements of food preparation, knife skills and culinary science. Today, however, many schools are encouraging the use of local farmers and artisanal producers to source ingredients.
This philosophy typically referred to as the farm-to-table or farm-to-fork movement, emphasizes the importance of understanding what goes into the ingredients we use in our cooking and food preparation, and the difference that fresh, locally sourced products make in a finished dish.
What Is Farm-to-Table Cuisine?
This approach to cuisine establishes strong ties between chefs and their direct sources of ingredients. That source could be a farmer who grows vegetables, a rancher who raises cattle or a dairy farmer who provides milk, butter and cheese.
When a culinary professional knows the source of their ingredients, they develop confidence in the flavor, quality and sustainability of the product. They know the ingredients are fresh and they know the process the provider uses to derive their products.
In most cases, the provider sells directly to the chef or restaurant, rather than using a third-party distributor.
Why Do Culinary Schools Teach this Philosophy?
The benefits of the farm-to-table philosophy cannot be over-emphasized, which is why this approach is often included in culinary school curriculum.
One of the primary reasons culinary professionals practice this philosophy is freshness. But it also helps ensure a consistent supply of ingredients. Purchasing from local purveyors encourages small business growth and sustenance, and it keeps income within the local community.
Finally, this philosophy is important to learn for the benefit of the people who will eat your food. Locally sourced fresh ingredients produce the most flavorful dishes in that location, at that time. Processed, previously frozen or otherwise artificially preserved ingredients can’t possibly compare to the quality these ingredients will provide.
How Can This Benefit Your Career after Culinary School?
Attending culinary school is a powerful way to boost your career opportunities in a variety of industries. But when you learn how to leverage the farm-to-fork philosophy, you bring even more to the career mix.
Whether you plan to pursue a career in the restaurant industry or if you prefer the entrepreneurial opportunities in the catering or food truck industries, your food will benefit from locally sourced ingredients. Your knowledge and credibility will also expand when you can explain how and where a particular component was grown or produced.
Park City Culinary Institute introduces our students to local farmers and artisans throughout northern Utah. Depending on the season, we may take students on field trips to tour farms, dairies and/or ranches, giving them the opportunity to meet the producers, ask questions and see the processes in action. This awareness helps create more skillful, well-rounded graduates who can then put this philosophy into practice in their own careers.