Educating the Next Generation of Restaurant Professionals
When Jared Rouben applied to study at the Culinary Institute of America, he was excited to see on the application that the highly-regarded school included a beer club among the various student organizations.
“Then I got here and discovered it had been dismantled for a couple of years. I was devastated,” says Rouben. “The first thing I did was re-start the club.”
The resurrected BrewClub started meeting in February, with the goal of educating future culinary professionals about the diversity of beer styles, beer and food pairings, and beer as an ingredient in the kitchen.
“It’s an eye-opener. Even my executive officers were drinking Miller Lite and Bud Light when we started. Not to be judgemental, but there’s so much more out there.”
The club has hosted six events already. “We started small with Hyde Park Brewery, then Ommegang—wow, that was taking a massive leap into a world of the unknown. I could hardly come up with the words to describe those flavors.”
Other events have paired beers from Dogfish Head, Sam Adams and Brooklyn breweries with individual foods like sausages or chocolate, or with tasting menus prepared by CIA students. The evening meetings are affordable, convenient for the demanding schedule, and student-run—and they meet a need.
“Wine is part of the curriculum. We have one of the best wine classes in the country. Students say it’s one of the most difficult courses in their two years here. It’s like organic chemistry. But we don’t have a beer course. I’ve seen course materials from culinary schools in Portland, and they give you the information you need to manage beer in a restaurant.”
At the four campuses of Johnson and Wales University, another top-rated school, Coors has supported the construction of the beverage labs. The Provicence, RI campus has its own micro-microbrewery: a half-barrel, copper-clad system and two fermenters. All culinary students are exposed to beer making, styles, beer service and pairing basics. Chefs in training use beer as an ingredient in dishes, such as a recent American cream ale sorbet that was served with fried apple rings.