If you think culinary school is just a way to learn how to cook, Andy Gladstein, Campus President for the Culinary Institute of Virginia, has a message for you. “We always tell people that the biggest misconception about culinary school—at least our approach to culinary education—is that we are a place where people learn how to cook. And we’re not. We’re a place where people learn how to cook to make money. Making great food is one thing. Making great food that is sustainable is very different. Knowing not only how to make great food that leads to a sustainable business—no matter what that business may be—is what we are all about.”
The other big misconception people have about culinary school is that its students are only interested in careers with 5-Star restaurants. “About a year and a half ago, we launched a degree in culinary arts and applied nutrition because of a growing number of orders we were receiving from the healthy food industry, which includes hospitals and retirement communities,” Gladstein says. “It’s a huge, growing market because food is an amenity, and people make decisions based on food. People in the healthy food industry are finding that if they want people to come to their hospital or their retirement community, food matters.”
Reacting to changes in the food industry over the last decade has been the school’s secret to success. In addition to offering a broader range of classes now, they also recently launched a staffing agency for their students, where employers can utilize their students as they would with a normal staffing agency, but for front and back-of-house support for large catering events.
Another exciting initiative that has happened over the past 10 years is the Chef’s Garden, where students are growing produce and herbs in a greenhouse near their Norfolk campus to bring the spirit of the farm-to-table movement to the forefront of their education.
In looking back on the 10 years that the CIV has been operating, Gladstein is proud of the work they’ve done to keep up with an ever-changing industry. “Being around for 10 years is very exciting; it’s been a great ride,” he says. “We feel like we’re just getting started. I love it when alumni come back and say, ‘You didn’t have that when I was here.’ That means we’re doing a great job, and that’s always a fun part of what we do.”