On January 8th, the Torribera Mediterranean Center (TMC) welcomed the first group of students from The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) here as part of their Mediterranean Concentration semester abroad. Seven students and their chef-instructor arrived in Barcelona to study at the Campus de l’Alimentació de Torribera and throughout the city.
The concentration is among the activities that TMC—a joint project of the University of Barcelona (UB) and the CIA—administers. The students are in the third or fourth year of their bachelor’s degree programs at the CIA, preparing for careers in restaurants, hospitality and foodservice, management, R&D, non-profit, marketing, or others. Their majors include applied food studies and food business management. While in Barcelona, their curriculum consists of three days of culinary classes focused on cuisines of the Mediterranean region, a Mediterranean food studies class to provide historical, geographical, environmental, and socio-cultural context to their experience, field trips throughout Catalonia and in Andalusia, and a research class for their Capstone project. Their culinary classes center on the differences and similarities found in preparations throughout the region, their nutritional facts, their traditional techniques, and innovations made to obtain greater nutritional benefits and emphasize flavor.
On January 9th, the students visited the facilities of the Campus de l’Alimentació de Torribera—the nutrition and health campus of the UB—including the TMC offices where their theoretical classes will take place, the Grameimpuls kitchen facilities where they will conduct their culinary classes, and the CRAI (Learning and Investigation Resource Center) services. They were welcomed by Dr. Pedro Fermín Marrero, the newly appointed Academic Vice-Dean and Director of the Academic Council for Food Sciences.
The concentration highlights the strengths of both parent institutions of the Torribera Mediterranean Center and further concretizes the alliance between them. The courses build on TMC’s expertise on food, nutrition, and sustainability using the Mediterranean and Mediterranean Diet as point of departure. Students will read and learn from experts who are members of the TMC’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Council and Culinary and Food Studies Council, and spend time learning about the operations of members of the Business Leadership and Innovation Council. Training CIA students also aligns with TMC’s objectives in training industry professionals through short courses, curriculae, and its industry conference, Tomorrow Tastes Mediterranean
The students will take field trips, including to several vineyards (biodynamic and organic), markets from Barcelona and Santa Coloma de Gramenet, wholesale food markets (Mercabarna), and organic producers. All of these trips feature products represented in the Mediterranean Diet, and highlight the traditions of the region.
This educational experience also highlights the applied approach of TMC, which seeks to put into practice, with a focus on restaurants, food services, and food manufacturers, the well-established scientific evidence behind the Mediterranean Diet. By combining culinary practice with a thorough exploration of the region’s past, present, and future, including questions of sustainability and globalized diets, the concentration ensures that students will return to the USA with a solid understanding of foodways around the Mediterranean.