Unique farm-to-table learning experience creates the versatile, in-demand chefs of the future.
By Kate Jonuska
In the 19th century, chef Georges Auguste Escoffier simplified and codified French cuisine to make delicious, quality food available to people outside the wealthiest classes. Today, the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is dedicated to offering an affordable, accessible and socially minded culinary education for the 21st century that would make its revolutionary namesake proud.
The socially minded aspect of the school’s mission is addressed throughout the school’s curriculum, explains Boulder campus president Kirk Bachmann, but comes to the forefront during the school’s Farm To Table® Experience—the six-week course that completes the school’s culinary arts program. “When students come to culinary school, having an opportunity to learn the fundamental techniques is important,” says Bachmann. “When students get to their last course, we encourage critical thinking. We go from our kitchens out to the farm—to local farmers and producers.”
Students visit local farms, ranches, farmers markets, bakeries and production plants to understand the full lifecycle of the ingredients they use, and to consider the ethical and sustainability ramifications of all their choices in the kitchen. Field trips take place on Mondays, followed by a week of applying learned techniques using food the students sourced—sometimes even picked—themselves.
“Our philosophy is to buy local when you can, as often as you can,” says Bachmann. “There are lots of reasons for doing so—some emotional, some physical—but more than anything, for our students, it’s the development of a relationship with the local community that grows our food.”
While certainly less static and technique-based than other parts of Escoffier’s curriculum, students’ farm-to-table experiences are also of immense value to future employers. These students arrive prepped not only to cook, but also able to help with purchasing, menu development, reducing food waste, improving sanitation processes and potentially, already having extant relationships with local producers.
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts offers all their professional programs in-person and online. In addition to their campuses in Boulder and Austin, Texas, thousands of students attend Escoffier remotely from almost every state in the nation. The school worked closely with the state government of Colorado, the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training, and the state Department of Education to create robust online learning options before the pandemic that have since proved wildly successful.
“Online education has worked incredibly well for us,” Bachmann says, explaining that even remote students get the hands-on experience to round out their education. “The company does a great job of organizing regional events. For example, students could gather in the Austin area for an event we held with the Texas Beef Council. We had another with King Arthur Flour up in Vermont.”
According to Escoffier’s great-grandson, Michel Escoffier, who serves on the school’s board, the Farm to Table® Experience is a program the famous chef would endorse, given his belief that science and changing social norms should shape the future of food.
“Cooking, like fashion, must evolve with time and take into account the changes in people’s lives. Whilst remaining an art, cooking will become more scientific, we will simplify it and enhance the nutrition and taste values of dishes. What will not change are the basic principles of cooking.”
–Chef Georges Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935)
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts’ Boulder campus is located at 637 S. Broadway, Suite H. For more information, call 877-249-0305 or visit escoffier.edu.