A unique culinary degree programme has been developed by IT Tallaght and Airfield Estate. The new Honours Degree in Botanical Cuisine will enable chefs to grow their own produce and creatively and confidently innovate food in line with current food and dietary trends.
The one-year part-time programme is the first of its kind in Europe and is aimed at chefs with extensive experience in the industry or those that have previous culinary qualifications.
The current focus on food provenance and sustainability within the culinary landscape sees many chefs exploring ‘restaurant farming’- the growing of their own produce, learning more about wild food and foraging, new methods of preservation and minimising food waste and adapting menus in line with current dietary trends.
Underpinned by the theory and practice of fruit and vegetable food production, this programme gives the chef an experiential ‘hands-on’ learning environment in Airfield Estate to grow their own produce, which in turn will be used for plant-based restaurant-menu food production.
The design of the programme was influenced by the Food on the Edge chef symposium in 2015, where chefs Matt Orlando (Amass Restaurant Copenhagen) and Sasu Laukkonen (Ora Restaurant, Helsinki), along with JP Mc Mahon (Aniar, Galway), spoke of the need for chef education in farming their own produce and the new approach to menu design.
Because of the uniqueness and need for the programme nationally and internationally, chefs JP Mc Mahon, Matt Orlando and Sasu Laukkonen have become the patrons of the programme. As key players in the food industry, they and their work has a ‘natural’ relevance and link with the ethos of the programme.
Speaking about the programme, JP Mc Mahon said: “This course is a vital addition towards the further education of Irish Gastronomy”, while Matt Orlando added: “I’m both happy and honoured to have had a role in inspiring this development.”
Sasu Laukkonen stated that “I have to say that being part of something like this has been a dream of mine for a long time. Imagine a future world where chefs understand more about their most important asset – the produce!”
Annette Sweeney, Culinary Arts Programme Coordinator at ITT, commented: “Creative food production has rarely focused on plant-based cuisine but rather classical cuisine and global cuisine. There is a need for a greater understanding by chefs of the natural ingredient, how it is grown, when it is grown, what influences the finished plant, natural flavours from ‘home-produced’ plants, and creatively using plants on menu and plating for a customer experience.”
She added: “In all our culinary programmes in IT Tallaght, we believe in using an applied approach to learning. What makes this programme unique is its applied nature, the focus being on linking fruit and vegetable gardening with plant-based menu production, applied culinary nutrition and culinary events project management.”
The new culinary programme starts this September and applications are now open. For more information, please contact Tom Meaney at Tom.Meaney@it-tallaght.ie or phone 01-4042830.