The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has been ranked as one of the best culinary schools in the world. With campuses in the United States (in Hyde Park, San Antonio, Saint Helena and Napa) and Singapore, the institute is partnering with the University of Barcelona to open its first campus in Europe, located in Barcelona, this coming fall.
The new campus, named Torribera Mediterranean Center (TMC), will offer two master’s degrees focused on the Mediterranean diet. Anne McBride, deputy director at the TMC, shares in this interview why they chose to locate the new campus in Barcelona, the partnerships they’re seeking with the Catalan food industry and the benefits of the Mediterranean diet that the CIA works worldwide to promote.
Why did you choose Barcelona to open your first CIA campus in Europe?
The CIA has had a long-standing relation with Spain. The first Worlds of Flavors Conference that featured only one country focused on Spain. The fact that Barcelona is a unique place with a lot of history, culture and innovation is also part of the attraction.
Barcelona has a very strong industry and a great restaurant scene. It's really at the crossroads of everything that you can seek to achieve. It's also a big, cosmopolitan city, and an easy point of access to other parts of Europe. And the partnership with the University of Barcelona was really an important one for us. It provided the right collaboration to make this the perfect home for this center.
The CIA thinks that it is a very important time to be here in Catalonia and the beginning of so many opportunities, and we look forward to bringing them to fruition.
What do you think about the food industry in Catalonia?
It is an extremely vibrant place, rich in entrepreneurial spirit. There are a lot of opportunities, a lot of companies here doing work that is related to what we are doing at TMC, so I very much hope that we can forge the right partnerships with the industry and they can see how we can benefit them, and we can also benefit from them.
Why did you partner with the University of Barcelona in this project?
The Torribera Mediterranean Center (TMC) is a joint project of the University of Barcelona and The Culinary Institute of America. It's been in the works for a long-time with the University of Barcelona.
Dr. Ramon Estruch of UB’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, who is one of the foremost authorities on the Mediterranean diet, is the chair of the scientific council and the co-director of the two masters. For us, it gives a lot of credibility to have the academic community here behind this project.
What kind of programs will be offered at the new center?
At the Torribera Mediterranean Center we will offer two master’s degrees starting in September 2019. One called Mediterranean Diet: Food Health and Nutritional Gastronomy, in English, which is aimed for people with a science background. It is for health professionals to train them on how to teach people about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and also how to use food to educate people on the benefits of this kind of diet.
The second master’s is called Dieta Mediterránea, Alimentación, Cultura e Innovación Culinaria, in Spanish. It is aimed for people with a culinary background, journalism and communication, marketing, tourism or hospitality. It's a broader master’s that will teach people the basics of the nutrition and the science from the Mediterranean diet, as well as elements related to marketing, tourism, and sustainability as well.
Both master’s aim at giving people the tools they need to tell others why and how the Mediterranean diet is great, and how to implement it in the industry also.
What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet?
Since the early 90s, the CIA has been very connected to the Mediterranean diet. Greg Drescher, CIA’s vice president of strategic initiatives, was one of the authors of the first paper in the United States on showing the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, together with Walter Willett at the Harvard School of Public Health.
At the core, it's deliciousness and good food, and all the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are well established. It was just named this year again the world's healthiest diet by US News & World Report. It also has the advantage of not being a diet, it’s not about deprivation, but it’s really about a lifestyle and everything you can eat.
It's also very timely, because it corresponds with what people want to eat now – more plant-focused, more whole grains, less meat, a lot of flavor and color on the plate. From a culinary perspective, there is nothing better that connects food and health than the Mediterranean diet.
Will this campus benefit from the collaborations of CIA with well-known institutions like Harvard?
Absolutely. Our advisory councils - the scientific and technical, the culinary and food studies, and the business leadership councils- are ways for us to include faculty members from these universities, as well as industry partners, into the work that we are doing here at the Torribera Mediterranean Center. They will provide the scientific guidance behind our academic programs, as well as drive our research agenda.
What are CIA’s plans of growth in Barcelona and in the world?
In Barcelona, the CIA is also working with editorial company Planeta in consulting for the Barcelona Culinary Hub that they are building, where they will be offering culinary training.
October 15-16 of this year we are organizing a conference in Barcelona called Tomorrow tastes Mediterranean. It is open to the industry, locally and globally. Our advisory council will be there too. This conference builds on the longstanding history that the CIA has doing industry conferences, where we train chefs, doctors, educators... It's a form of continuing education because we think there is a need. So that's another deepening of the relationships of CIA in Barcelona.
As far as opening other campuses around the world, we don't have plans for that, but we are always pursuing international growth through partnerships and collaborations.