International Opportunities at John Folse Culinary Institute, Nicholls State U
Food is global. Whether you are exploring your own culture's cuisine or that of other countries you're living/traveling in (or just want to go there), you know that food is important. More than anything, the culture of food intertwines with geography, people, music, the arts...even the weather (try to make a meringue when it's muggy out). Culinary Institutes are an incredible way to learn about both food and culture - and we've got a fantastic resource for you today! The John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University is an extraordinary example of teaching regional cuisine, as well as exploring the world. Between regular programs of study, there are a plethora of international opportunities available. It's amazing, and a true example of intercultural education.
Chef Marcelle Bienvenu attends an Alliance Chef Instructor Master Class
We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with Chef Randy Cheramie, Executive Director, John Folse Culinary Institute, about the Institute, international opportunities, faculty members, study abroad, and more. Here's what he had to say...
WE: Please tell us about the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University...
RC: The John Folse Culinary Institute began offering courses for college credit in 1995. The institute accepted its inaugural academic class in January 1996, offering an associate of science degree. The Board of Regents authorized Nicholls to offer a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts in 1997, making it the first four-year culinary degree program at a U.S. public university. Today, the John Folse Culinary Institute has an enrollment of approximately 300 students and serves as one of the university’s Areas of Excellence. Summer of 2010 the state legislature appropriated over six million dollars for the new JFCI culinary center with projected completion set for fall, 2012.
Our Mission Statement:
The John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University is dedicated to the preservation and advancement of the rich culinary heritage of Louisiana.
It provides a focal point for the study of classical culinary arts, Louisiana’s culinary heritage and the discovery of regional and global perspectives. The institute will establish and maintain world-class culinary instructional and research faculty and facilities. The institute will encourage scholarly and proprietary culinary research and preserve our unique culture through the establishment of an archives and research center. The institute will encourage and promote the understanding of history and diversity through culinary education to the academic community and the general public, both nationally and internationally.
WE: What was the genesis of the Institute?
RC: Chef John Folse, an NSU alumnus and world renown chef, and then NSU President Donald Ayo were dining at Chef’s Lafitte’s Landing restaurant. During dinner conversation, over bowls of gumbo and a pretty good bottle of wine, the question was posed, “In an area known as a culinary Mecca, why does no culinary school exists dedicated to the culture and traditions of the most important of all of America’s regional cuisines; Cajun/Creole?”
Patrick Martinez, (right) Senior from Napoleonville, LA attends skills class.
WE: Who are your Faculty Members?
RC: JFCI currently employs nine faculty members with decades of industry experience. Each has expertise in their respective fields; Cajun/Creole cuisine, classical cuisine, international cuisine, baking & pastry, fine dining service, restaurant operations, banquet operations, sanitation, and the business of food service. These chefs bring practical, real life experiences into their classrooms everyday. Every decision we make is focused on whether student learning outcomes will improve and graduation rates will rise, all of which to be nurtured in a pleasant, encouraging and engaging educational environment.
Besides bringing superb professional credentials to our students, our faculty are also academically sound and meet all of the criteria necessary for the higher educational standards of our university accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Our faculty upper level degrees are in diverse areas such as urban studies, business, the humanities, hotel and restaurant management, to name a few. Our faculty also publishes regularly. Their names – like Marcelle Bienvenu – are familiar to readers who keep up with writing in the area of food and culinary arts.
WE: Can you please share with us your international opportunities?
RC: Currently, programs are being designed and planned with China and South Korea in which students and faculty could be exchanged as early as summer, 2011. Past opportunities had our students visiting Italy, Costa Rica and Toulouse, France. JFCI is also working on other international opportunities for our students.
Twelve chefs also have come each summer from as far away as India, Russia, Hungary, Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, Canada, Croatia, South America and Central America to participate in a two-week fellowship and southern cuisine immersion program sponsored jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Southern United States Trade Association. The objective of the SUSTA Food Utilization Program is to introduce food products of the Southern United States to chefs from around the world, thus creating foreign demand for our catfish, pecans, cane syrup, crawfish, hams, seasoning blends, Mississippi blueberries, Creole tomatoes, Texas salsas, Vidalia onions and more. Cooking lab topics include Cajun/Creole, Tex Mex, Barbecue, Appalachian, Southern Soul, Carolina Low-Country and Florida/Cuban cuisines. As many as eight to ten students work with the chefs, each renowned and highly credentialed in their respective countries, for a two week period.
WE: You've got an amazing study abroad program - who can attend this?
RC: JFCI is the only American school that belongs to The Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance, a collection of nine of the world’s finest universities sharing strong educational values and a common commitment to promote the profession of culinary arts. These universities hail from the United States, Peru, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Greece and Finland. Each university selects its best students to follow a four-month intensive training at the Institut Paul Bocuse near Lyon, France. Subjects include:
• French Regional Cuisine,
• the arts de la table,
• wine selection,
• French cooking terminology and
• pastry techniques.
With the support of sponsors such as the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE), the John Folse Culinary Institute sends at least three students each summer to participate in this world-class program. The latest class of Nicholls students for the Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance arrived in Lyon in May, 2010. Students attending this year are:
Patrick Martinez, Senior, Napoleonville, LA
Elizabeth Williston, Senior from Thibodaux. LA
Allison Richard, Senior from Kingwood, Texas
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
RC: At JFCI you can earn a culinary degree without breaking the bank. College can be expensive, especially if you’re a culinary student who needs books, knife sets, and uniforms. The culinary institute at Nicholls is very affordable, especially when compared to the costs of private culinary institutes. Most students qualify for financial aid and/or scholarships. Out-of-state students often qualify for fee waivers and pay in-state tuition prices.
WE: Thanks so very much, Che Randy! This is an incredible opportunity for students - we are very impressed.
For more information, please see:
Photos courtesy and copyright Paul Bocuse.