A new Holistic Nutrition and Wellness diploma and degree program aims to bridge the education gap between dietitians and chefs.
The program, launching at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts on Feb. 16, will roll out online, but on-campus courses will begin in May at the school’s Boulder, Colo., location.
“The program will give students a rock-solid culinary education and nutrition science principles,” says Kathleen Vossenberg, vice president of academic affairs at the culinary school.
Proprietary market research conducted by Escoffier backs up the need to integrate nutrition and culinary, says Vossenberg.
The healthy eating and wellness sector is a $945 billion market, with jobs forecasted to grow 13% to 20% in the next 10 years, its research shows. There are opportunities in the personal chef profession, health-focused restaurants, senior living, college dining and more.
Furthermore, half of culinary school graduates surveyed said that nutrition was a missing component of their education. And COVID has ramped up the need for that expertise even more, with 78% of consumers agreeing that diet has a major impact on how the body responds to illness, per Escoffier.
A team of Escoffier chefs, nutritionists, registered dietitians and wellness coaches designed the program’s coursework, with a special emphasis on healthy cooking principles for people with specialized diets, food intolerances and diet-related diseases. “A good portion of the current faculty has a background in healthy cooking, but we are hiring additional instructors with backgrounds in wellness and nutrition science,” says Vossenberg.
Hands-on learning opportunities and in-person externships will be incorporated, too.
“We’re moving away from operating in a vacuum to address the whole body and mind,” Vossenberg says. “We’re looking at health in terms of sustainability, stress, movement and herbology in addition to the impact of food and diet on wellness.”
That said, the program is firmly rooted in the science behind metabolic nutrition rather than popular diet culture and fads, says Vossenberg: “It’s really important to look at the evolving science and separate fact from fiction.”
Escoffier’s Holistic and Wellness diploma entails 59 credit hours online over a period of 15 months, while the associate degree is 90 credits over 21 months.
“The time frame is shorter if it’s done on campus, but we’re the only culinary school offering a program that is fully online,” says Vossenberg. “That makes for a more competitive price point and more flexibility.”