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Designing a unique culinary school for artisans

Apr 7, 2023

The realities of the post-Covid19 hospitality industry scene

The hospitality industry, especially the restaurant segment, has long been notorious for its high-pressure, high-stress environment. Functioning long hours, demanding customers, and physically demanding work, even the most passionate workers can be affected. Unfortunately, the industry has been further impacted by the global pandemic, which has disrupted every aspect of trade. In addition to the increasing challenges of changing customer habits and restrictions, the pandemic has left many workers questioning their willingness to return to employment that has long been known for its harsh realities.

In 2020, most hospitality workers were largely left to fend for themselves, and this abandonment has dramatically changed our attitudes toward our careers and life choices. Many of us realized that the companies we had given so much didn’t have our back when we needed it most. Few of them had backup plans to deal with a crisis of this magnitude, and even fewer showed genuine concern for their teams. While some governments did provide financial assistance, the scars of this “solution” remain today, as finding trained people to work has become increasingly difficult.

The industry’s lack of benefits, fair pay, and work-life balance has left many feeling overworked and undervalued, causing burnout and prompting many to leave their hospitality careers altogether. This unfortunate trend has only exacerbated the already limited pool of trained workers, which is becoming increasingly volatile with each passing day. However, despite the dire situation, few owners and managers have taken the necessary steps to address the issue and implement much-needed changes. We are in dire need of reform, and it’s time for everyone involved to take a hard look at how things are done and make improvements for the betterment of all.

There is hope

While it’s true that many workers are leaving the restaurant industry, this trend has also led to a rise in entrepreneurship that’s creating a more hopeful future for the gastronomic world. Some who have left the traditional restaurant scene are using their skills and experience to launch their food businesses, such as specialized catering companies, artisan food shops, and bakeries. These food artisans can create more sustainable work environments and can enjoy greater control and freedom over their schedules, menus, and business practices.

This shift towards entrepreneurship also leads to a renewed focus on sustainability and locally sourced ingredients. Many small new businesses prioritize these values over cost-cutting and convenience, resulting in a more diverse and innovative food landscape with a refreshed variety of options. With a passion for cooking and entrepreneurship, these food artisans are paving the way for a brighter future for the industry. By creating their paths, they can build better businesses and forge a new route for the food industry full of potential and exciting opportunities.

The need for something new

Traditional culinary schools are a good way for aspiring chefs to gain foundational knowledge and skills in the culinary arts. However, for those interested in the artisan food world, traditional culinary education does not provide the space or resources to experiment, play and create in the same way. There was a need for a school that would offer a more specialized education for food artisans, allowing them to delve deeper into specific techniques, ingredients, and traditions that make their craft unique. Thus, a new kind of school was created, the Artisan Culinary School. Focused on the specific needs of artisan food creators.
Our school provides a space for students to explore the full range of possibilities within their chosen field, with instructors who understand the challenges and opportunities facing artisans in today’s food industry. This kind of education supports the growth of individual artisans while also helping to preserve and evolve traditional food practices for generations to come.

What does it mean to be an artisan?

Our culinary school was created with a specific goal: to support the resurgence of traditional culinary techniques and the artisanal approach to cooking. As artisans are skilled craftspeople who dedicate themselves to producing high-quality, handcrafted food with a passion for excellence, we recognized the need for a school that focuses on training food artisans rather than chefs or cooks for the restaurant industry.
Industrialization led to a decline in artisanal crafts, including culinary arts; however, a renewed interest in traditional culinary techniques and high-quality ingredients from producers and consumers has sparked a resurgence of interest in artisanal food production. We aimed to meet this demand by developing a culinary school that prioritizes the development of practical skills and techniques, as well as a deep understanding of the ingredients and flavors that go into making exceptional food.
Our school’s primary focus is on pointing aspiring food artisans in the right direction and accompanying them as they take their first steps. We aim to cultivate a deep commitment to the craft of artisanal food production, inspiring our students to become masters of their trade. Our goal is to create a global community of food artisans who share a passion for producing unique and delicious food using traditional techniques and high-quality ingredients. All these points were carefully laid out here: About us.
The notion that you can become a master of a craft by completing a one-week or three-month course is a fallacy. While such courses can be valuable in providing foundational knowledge and practical skills, they cannot replace the years of work and dedication required to truly master a craft. Becoming a master of any craft takes a lifetime of learning, practice, and refinement. It requires a deep commitment, a willingness to learn from mistakes, and a passion for continuous improvement. At our culinary school, we recognize that our courses are simply the first step of many on the long road to excellence. We strive to instill in our students a commitment to lifelong learning and a dedication to honing their skills so that they may continue to improve and refine their craft throughout their careers.

The Shokunin mentality, with a European soul

The shokunin mindset played a significant role in shaping the philosophy of our culinary school. Shokunin is a Japanese term that refers to a craftsman or artisan who has a deep commitment to their work and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

«The shokunin mindset emphasizes the importance of craftsmanship,
dedication, and a never-ending pursuit of mastery.»

At the Artisan Culinary School, we have embraced the shokunin mindset and made it the foundation of our approach to training artisans. We believe that the pursuit of excellence is the key to creating exceptional food and that this pursuit requires a combination of technical skill, creative passion, and a deep appreciation for the ingredients that make up each preparation.

By prioritizing practical skills, an understanding of ingredients, and a never-ending pursuit of mastery, we are empowering our students to become exceptional culinary artisans.

At the Artisan Culinary School, we aim for the shokunin mentality in everything we do. We believe that this mindset is essential to becoming a skilled artisan and is a cornerstone of our teaching philosophy. However, we also recognize that the culinary arts have a rich history and tradition in Europe. As such, we infuse our approach with a strong artisan European soul, drawing upon the techniques and methods refined and passed down through generations of European artisans.

The Japanese shokunin is a spiritual, disciplined, devout, and perfectionist artisan.
The European artisan is a creative, innovative, and practical artisan.

Shokunin artisans often view their work as a spiritual pursuit, striving to perfect their craft to achieve a sense of personal fulfillment and contribute to the greater good. European artisans, on the other hand, tend to focus more on the technical aspects of their craft and the creation of beautiful, delicious preparations.
Shokunin artisans have a deep respect for tradition and often work to preserve and honor the techniques and values passed down from previous generations. In contrast, European artisans may be more focused on innovation and experimentation, seeking to push the boundaries of their craft and create new products, styles, and forms.
Shokunin artisans often follow a traditional apprenticeship model, spending years working under a master craftsman and learning through observation and practice. In Europe, while apprenticeships do exist, there are many other forms of education and training that artisans can pursue to learn their craft, like the Artisan Culinary School.
Overall, both shokunin artisans and European artisans share a deep love for their craft and a commitment to excellence, but they approach their work in different ways based on their cultural and historical contexts.
By combining the Japanese mentality with a strong European soul, we aim to create a unique and comprehensive curriculum that provides our students with a deep understanding of the principal artisan food disciplines as well as the practical skills and techniques needed to produce high-quality, handcrafted products. Our ultimate goal is to inspire our students to become true artisans in their own right and to instill in them a commitment to excellence and a passion for the culinary arts that will last a lifetime.
While we focus on hands-on training, allowing students to practice and perfect their skills in a real-world environment, we also emphasize the philosophy of excellence and self-improvement, how significant our impact can be to the world that surrounds us, how we can understand sustainability and the use of locally sourced seasonal ingredients, further reinforcing our commitment to the artisanal approach.
Visit our course catalog here.

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