Want to polish your culinary skills in Europe while also revving up your political activism? You can do so starting next year at the new Basque Culinary Center in Spain, whose celebrity chef-laden advisory council also expects students to learn how to change the world through food.
“Through cooking, you can make the world a better place,” says superchef Ferran Adria of Spain’s legendary El Bulli. He’s one of nine celebrity chefs who comprise the advisory council of the Basque Culinary Center that will open in San Sebastian, Gipuzkoa, Spain next fall under the auspices of Mondragon University. The four-year program will provide the requisite training in cooking skills while also educating students about key food issues from around the globe.
“This isn’t a cooking school,” director Joxe Mari Aizega tells Time. “It’s an interdisciplinary school with cooking at its heart.”
So how effective will graduates be in advocating for culinary and social issues when they also have to spend 60 hours a week working in a hot kitchen? That doesn’t seem to be a concern for the stellar group who thought up the curriculum. Besides Adria, it includes Rene Redzepi, chef at Noma in Copenhagen, recently named the world’s best restaurant; Heston Blumenthal, whose Bray, England, restaurant The Fat Duck was the previous holder of that title; Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, NY; plus other leading culinary lights from around the globe
“We’re talking about the role of the chef in the future” Barber told Time. “And in that sense, it’s not the revolution inside the kitchen that matters the most.”
So would it be worth your while to invest the amount of money and time required to attend this school? It could well be, especially since you’d be fluent in Spanish by the time you graduated. Not only will this school have an instant high profile in the culinary world, thanks to its celebrity chef connections. Think of the stages and jobs you’d be able to line up from the chefs on the advisory council when you’re ready to go to work. And, of course, on the personal adventure scale, going to cooking school in San Sebastian is right at the top of the charts.
The downside? You’ll have to decide for yourself if professional cooking and political activism make for a good career mix. Even after you’ve taken a class at school agonizing about the “semi-slavery” of Peruvian farmers who grow for the cocaine cartel instead of the chocolate makers, you may find that when it’s you who gets stuck working the deep-fry station on Christmas Day, the only “semi-slavery” you’re really concerned about is your own.