Basque Culinary Center: pioneer in university culinary training

The Basque Culinary Center is a unique culinary training and research centre in Europe, with its headquarters in San Sebastian. It opened in 2009 to take culinary training to the university for the first time ever in Spain with the introduction of the first Degree in Gastronomy and Culinary Arts. Its setting up marked the beginning of a new phase in culinary training, a new era that had been fostered for years by leading Basque chefs, Mondragon University and it was also the result of the progress of Spain as world leader in contemporary and innovative gastronomy.

Therefore, the Basque Culinary Center is made up of the San Sebastian Faculty of Culinary Sciences, attached to Mondragon University, and a Food and Gastronomy Research and Innovation Centre. In this way, the institution offers culinary training two essential keys for the development of the sector: research and innovation.

As a new feature, the centre has just joined forces with the World Tourism Organization in an agreement that seeks to exchange information for the development of culinary tourism. Both entities are therefore committed to providing mutual guidance and information exchange in relation to culinary tourism, creating information, research and development programmes in this field.

  • Underlying Objectives

With a clear international vocation, the Basque Culinary Center sets out to generate high-level culinary knowledge, train qualified professionals, foster research, knowledge and technology transfer and the creation of new business initiatives and projects. To fulfil these objectives, it is defined as “a living faculty where gastronomy enthusiasts live alongside professional restaurateurs, where events, conference cycles and seminars and cultural acts are organised…”. Occupying a total of 15,000 square metres, it is a functional building equipped with the best facilities for haute cuisine training and research.

To support this project, the Basque Culinary Center Foundation has a Board made up of leading Basque chefs: Juan María Arzak, Pedro Subijana, Eneko Atxa, Martín Berasategui, Andoni Luis Aduriz, Karlos Arguiñano and Hilario Arbelaitz; Mondragon University; AZTI technology centre; public institutions; national and international companies. It also has the backing of the world’s best chefs through the International Advisory Council, which is headed by Ferran Adrià and whose members are chefs from the most important culinary regions in the world, such as Yukkio Hattori (Japan), Massimo Bottura (Italy), Michel Bras (France), Dan Barber (United States), Gastón Acurio (Peru), Alex Atala (Brazil), Heston Blumenthal (United Kingdom) and René Redzepi (Denmark).

  • Training Offer

With the idea of combining cuisine with management, science and other disciplines, the Basque Culinary Center introduced the Degree in Gastronomy and Culinary Arts in 2009. It is the first university degree in Spain and lasts 4 years. From the first year, students go on work placements in restaurants, culinary businesses or catering establishments in order to expand on their theoretical training. In fact, the practical training is one of the hallmarks of this centre which seeks to train students in the real world on which the institution bases its educational model. Therefore, the contents are not presented in an isolated fashion or in the form of independent subjects, but with an interdisciplinary proposal that fosters the association of several areas of knowledge.

This global and multi-disciplinary vision rounds off its hallmark. Not only does it train students in cuisine but also in dining room service and management. The training revolves around 4 important fields: Kitchen-Dining Room-Sommelier Techniques; Business Management; Science and Technology; and Culture and Art. These ensure the comprehensive training of future professionals of the culinary sector. Third-year students must choose to specialise in one of the degree’s three speciality areas: Culinary Innovation; Innovation, Business and Entrepreneurship; or Food Industry.

The centre’s training offer is rounded off with an extensive and varied catalogue of Master Courses (such as the Master in Sommelier and Eno-marketing; Master in Restaurant Cake and Confectionery Making; Master in Cuisine: Technique and Products; or the Master in Innovation and Restaurant Management), specialisation programmes (such as Management and Innovation in tapas and pintxo bars; Advanced Course in Culinary Techniques; or Innovative Culinary Techniques) and a wide selection of themed courses for professionals.

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