Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More News on the SA CIA

Heard back from Chefriend Dr. Victor Gielisse about the future plans for the San Antonio Culinary Institute of America (they call it CIA, SA - but SACIA translates from Spanish "to satisfy", so I prefer my way).   He says "the location is fantastic and we believe we have a real opportunity being in Texas to grow and extend the CIA Brand".   Gosh, San Antonio, Riverwalk, great food, Schlitterbahn - I'd go to school there!

I'm not sure that there is any other culinary school in the middle of the country that offers the extensive programs the CIA does.  Looking up culinary schools shows the top of the list located either on the left or right coasts.  So should this venture become a success, it would be a real draw for students to San Antonio - with most graduates likely looking to start their careers in the Texas region.

This also marks the CIA's efforts to recognize and elevate Latin foods to the stature of other cuisines, the growth of the Latin restaurant market has been strong with 33% of ethnic restaurant sales (Asian 32%, Italian 25%, Technomics survey).  In some cities up to 63% of foodservice workers are Hispanic, and their working trend is moving away from menial jobs to leadership positions.  

Further, there has been a gap between consumers interest in Latin American foods and their education in the nature of these dishes.   Many "traditional" recipes have been changed as they migrated North, but the original dishes are of value educationally.  Teaching preparers and diners in these subleties will raise the standards for foods of Mexico, South and Central America.

Based on the low number of Hispanic culinary leaders in the country (as compared to the large number of Hispanics in the workforce) this program can help elevate future Latin American chefs to a creditable level of competence in their native cuisines.  Currently the 30-week certificate program offered has a goal of 50% Hispanic student enrollment, so far 75% of the students who have been through the program are Hispanic.

So what is this 30-week certificate, anyhow?  It is
designed to blend a love of cooking with culinary discipline and fundamentals creating an opportunity for aspiring chefs to develop the skills hey will need no matter the type of cuisine they ultimately cook.  The program includes courses that are equivalent to the first year of education at the CIA and is taught by chefs from the CIA in Hyde Park and Greystone.
Now, about the location, 22 acres along the banks of the San Antonio River.  Plans are to transform it into an urban village with retail, restaurants, art galleries and traditional open air produce mercado.  And an events facility and the Center for Foods of the Americas.  Visiting chefs from top restaurants in Latin America.   San Antonio I hope you are drooling over how delicious this could be!

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