Alabama Has a Serious Culinary School

May 3, 2007 at 9:00 am

Many of the community colleges in the state offer degrees and certifications in the culinary arts.  The Hotel & Restaurant Management program at Auburn University is well respected but until recently Alabama was devoid of a premier culinary school.  Not anymore.

Culinard is part of the Birmingham campus of the Virginia College.  Culinard opened its doors less than a decade ago with the mission of providing aspiring chefs from Alabama a chance to get a “superior education in the culinary arts” without having to leave the state.  By offering degrees and ACF (American Culinary Federation) certifications in Culinary Arts, Pastry, Baking, and Confectionery Arts, and Culinary Arts Management Culinard has done just that.

As part of the education process at Culinard the school maintains three working eateries in which students can gain experience.  The Restaurant at Culinard is a student-run business with exceptional ingredients and creative cuisine from around the world.  The Bakery at Culinard is “a professionally run full-service European-style bakery.”  They specialize in breads, baked goods, pastries, and confections.  Culinard Catering is a chance for students to earn real world experience in the food industry’s most demanding field.

Now the secret is out.  On a recent episode of The Food Network Challenge a team of pastry chefs from Culinard matched skills with some of the top pastry teams in the nation including the world famous Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.  Led by Swiss-born instructor Thomas Mair the team took third place with the overall championship going to Le Cordon Bleu.   Just qualifying for the event was recognition enough for how far Culinard has come in such a short time but by placing third they have served noticed to the world that Alabama has a serious culinary school.

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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