Educating tradesmen and tradeswomen is the key to maintaining and advancing the trade. In culinary art there is a void for a formal professional vegetarian/vegan curriculum to be taught in professional culinary schools as the result of its increased popularity due to healthy dining consumers who are reducing their meat consumption. The healthy diner dining on vegetarian cuisine will not sacrifice taste for nutrition. Combined the vegetarian, lactose free and heart healthy consumers are creating a demand for vegetarian cuisine in US restaurants and is now at an all time high. Culinary schools are trying to address the demand for vegetarian cuisine through their schools curriculum but have, to my knowledge, no strategic direction beyond vegetable preparation. Today’s chefs generally have little or no formal education in vegetarian cuisine causing the mainstream food service industry to struggle in cost effectively addressing vegetarian cuisine on their menus with perceived value and protein innovation.
As one can see from information imparted on this site, it is much more complicated than simply cooking a good tasting, innovative dinner. Hitting the mark on taste, food cost, labor cost and nutrition is not easy mark. While it is imperative to know the culinary side of cooking vegan cuisine one must also understand the operational and marketing components of the cuisine.
The solution is culinary educational. The ANF is due to complete the Certified Vegetarian Cook program and submit it to WACS for approval. When approved the program will eventually be taught in culinary schools and as a continuing education course for professional cooks and chefs internationally. The skill sets for vegetarian cuisine build on the classical French culinary skill sets currently taught in culinary schools. This helps in integrating vegetarian cuisine into a traditional culinary school curriculum.
In response to the need to integrate vegetarian cuisine into culinary school curriculums I approached the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) seeking their endorsement to develop a Global “Certified Vegetarian Cook” (CVC) program and they agreed. WACS has 10 million chef members in 36 nations and set the International Standard for culinary education. Their web address is http://www.wacs2000.org/
The ANF’ team won numerous medals in the International Culinary Olympics in its endeavor to take vegan cuisine to a gold standard. In my 20 years of competing in the Olympics, the focus with the team was on taking vegan cuisine to an Olympic standard. Having achieved that goal the ANF recognized its next challenge to be culinary education. It knew it had to be a professional culinary curriculum that met the diverse needs of professional cooks and chefs. The CVC is the culinary curriculum and WACS is the institution to professionally implement it as the first internationally recognized and comprehensive professional vegetarian curriculum.