Farm to Table
A groundbreaking program that goes to the heart of sustainability, designed for those who want to be at the forefront of tomorrow’s most celebrated cuisine. Total immersion, hands-on learning at farms, ranches, wineries, and markets in California—where farm-to-table cuisine begins—will transform your understanding of food.
Your Path to Becoming a Chef of the 21st Century. Come out of the Kitchen and into the Fields.
Great food begins beyond the four walls of a kitchen. It begins in the fields, pastures, and the sea. As a chef of the 21st-century, you need to know more than culinary technique and kitchen management. You need to personally experience the whole ecosystem of food: how the food you serve is seeded, nourished, and harvested, and what conditions create the best possible ingredients and flavors.
If you want to be truly successful in today’s culinary world, you have to expand your knowledge beyond pure cuisine. You have to understand soil, as much as you have to understand the produce that grows in it. You have to become intimately familiar with the dairy farms, vineyards, and markets. Tomorrow’s expertly executed dishes will merge seasonal splendor with impeccable culinary technique and new ways to think about food. You cannot find new ways of thinking about food without teaching your hands, your eyes, and your mind to understand and recognize the finest ingredients at their source.
California was the country’s leader in the farm-to-table movement. California producers supply almost 50% of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, shepherding them through a complex distribution system that brings produce from field to plate. Where better to learn about agricultural cuisine than the state where the farm-to-table movement began?
That’s why The International Culinary Center of California launched a groundbreaking Farm-to-Table program designed for those who want to be at the forefront of tomorrow’s most respected cuisine, to work together with farmers and the chef community to create a healthy, sustainable, and delicious food system. And since our campus is ideally located near San Jose and the Salinas Valley—America’s “Bread Basket”— this is the perfect place to learn about the essential links in the food chain.
What You’ll Learn
This six-month program will build upon the skills and techniques of our renowned Professional Culinary Arts Work Experience program by connecting your training as a chef to the beginning of the food chain. You’ll come out of the kitchen and into the fields to embrace all aspects of California farming and ingredient sourcing. You won’t just look and learn, but you’ll get your hands dirty as you feel the produce and discover what distinguishes the very best.
In a revolutionary curriculum personally designed by Karen Karp, a pioneer in food systems and sustainability and one of the leading ambassadors in the “good food” movement, you’ll have the opportunity to learn firsthand how food production, distribution, social and environmental sustainability, policy, and delicious food go hand-in-hand. You’ll be connected to the very best California food producers, both large and small, and develop an understanding of the methods that help make farm-to-table cuisine a reality. These producers have been specifically chosen to give you the broadest, most informed perspectives on farm-to-table cuisine available to culinary students today.
Through a week of experiential learning comprised of a series of field trips— including two overnight excursions—you’ll hear from experts in food agriculture and sustainability just how the food supply chain works. From production and picking to pest control, preservation, packaging, and marketing, this course will help you gain insight into the many precise decisions involved in getting quality ingredients from farm to plate.
You’ll visit both small artisan farms and large commercial-scale operations to observe and learn their philosophical and practical similarities and differences. You’ll pick the brains of farm workers, ranchers, vineyard and market managers, and policy makers about what organic and sustainable really means.
What you learn will help you understand the true value of meat, produce, and dairy products to make more informed choices. You’ll write better recipes, create more vibrant seasonal menus, and have a greater appreciation for regionally focused cuisine devoted to locally sourced products. You will become empowered to ask good questions about the food you purchase, cook, and serve in your professional lives.
This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to look at the entirety of the farm-to-table movement and combine immersive in-the-kitchen study with in-the-field experience. You will be prepared not only to be the very best chef, but to understand and preserve our culinary and farming heritage for future generations. Your firsthand experiences will give you the personal knowledge to accompany your passion and competitive skills and will be invaluable to your career.
This revolutionary Farm-to-Table curriculum extends our comprehensive 600-hour Professional Culinary Arts Work Experience course by connecting your training as a chef to the beginning of the food chain. Hands-on experience will be emphasized through a series of field trips that take you beyond the four walls of the kitchen. You’ll benefit from the broadest, most informed perspectives on farming and sustainable agriculture from the industry’s brightest minds. You’ll experience the very best of California’s bounty as you visit some of the most innovative producers: small and large scale farmers, dairies, ranches, dairy farms, vineyards and markets. What you learn will allow you to make expert personal decisions about the products you’ll use to heighten quality and flavor in your own professional kitchen. It will also make you more competitive when you graduate.
Field Trip 1
Field Trip 2
Field Trip 3
Ranches and Dairy Farms
Field Trip 4
Aquariums and Fisheries
Field Trip 5
Urban Food Systems
On your first day you will visit both ends of the agricultural spectrum. You’ll begin at Alba Organics, a small-scale organic farm that sells its products to bigger companies and trains laborers to become entrepreneurs. You’ll finish at Bolthouse Farms, the second largest carrot producer in the country where you’ll learn more about the national food chain and the business of large-scale farming. You’ll taste white, purple, yellow, and orange carrots, learn how to tell if they are fresh, and talk about ways to use them in your menus. You may have the opportunity to ride on top of a combine to help harvest carrots.
You’ll also become familiar with the key trends and issues in contemporary agriculture and the basic principles of vegetable production and how they affect flavor, cost, and preparation.
You’ll gain insight into water management and farm labor—two essential and controversial issues in farming today. By the end of this first session, you’ll have begun to unravel some of the myths and realities behind our food landscape that are so important to working chefs.
You’ll continue to explore the connection between production and its relationship to flavor, cost, and preparation as you visit a fruit orchard and Ridge Vineyards, an award winning winery. You’ll learn about the importance of biodiversity and how complementary systems, like pests and crops, work together to solve farming’s biggest challenges. The role of soil, seed, fertilizer, pesticides, and labor will all be considered, as will hand versus machine harvest methods.
You’ll explore wine classifications, types of grapes, optimal climate, and location for growing and the interrelationship between soil, climate, and water. They you’ll move on to more specific information about how wine is made. From learning about grape growing to pressing to fermentation and bottling, by the time you complete your day at Ridge Vineyards, you’ll have a new appreciation for how wine is made and how it can complement your menu.
On your first overnight excursion you’ll visit Paicines Ranch, a 7,700-acre ranch and land restoration project in the San Benito Valley, where livestock production and land conservation go hand-in-hand. The owners of Paicines are committed to managing the “landscape for biodiversity, water quality, and an effective energy cycle, along with financial sustainability.”
At Paicines Ranch, you’ll learn how good ecological practices and the humane treatment of animals result not only in less impact on the land, but also in superior flavor. After butchering and preparing meat for the evening meal, you’ll be up with the cows, visiting a nearby 10,000 head dairy farm—a literal counterpart to Paicines—to witness large-scale dairy production firsthand and understand the distinctions between commercial and small-scale farming. As part of this session, you’ll also taste local dairy products from Spring Hill Jersey Cheese/The Petaluma Creamery.
You’ll take a private tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and learn about the importance of ocean biodiversity. You’ll visit with a local chef and learn more about sustainable seafood choices and how to source the freshest and best fish and shellfish products for your menus. You'll visit a shellfish aquaculture farm to learn about the interplay between science and technology and how aquaculture is working to restore the health of the oceans.
During this session, you’ll learn even more about climate change, the importance of water conservation, and how the practices of farms and vineyards affect the ocean’s biodiversity and our seafood supply.
Your final field trip will take place in San Francisco where you will visit the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market—widely recognized as the place where many of the city’s best chefs source their ingredients. There you will take a tour with the market manager, who will introduce you to a range of wholesalers with different specialties: local food, organic produce, and imports. You will learn how each wholesale business has its special focus and how produce is procured, shipped, packed, and distributed from near and far.
After the tour you will meet with city officials in the Market’s board room to learn about the importance of food system infrastructure and food policy to today’s restaurants, retailers, and consumers. Representatives from the Mayor’s office and the Departments of Health and Planning will be on hand to share how urban policy and quality of life is shaped by food and how markets and chefs are critical to building that effort.
While at the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market, you’ll shop side-by-side with local chefs to understand how they navigate a farmers’ market. Then you’ll prepare and cook your selections in a cook-off for consumers, demonstrating all you’ve learned and further cementing the skills you gained in the kitchens of the International Culinary Center.
Turn Your Passion for Culinary Arts into College Credits at The New School
Graduates of our Classic Culinary Arts program whose GPAs are 3.0 (equivalent to an 85% cumulative average) or higher can now transfer 22 credits towards a
Bachelor of Arts or Science from The New School for Public Engagement, a division of The New School—one of the foremost private universities in New York City. A total of 60 credits from International Culinary Center programs may be applied towards the 120 credit requirement for a degree in Liberal Arts from The New School for Public Engagement.
To get started, speak to your admission representative about how to start earning credits today. Click here to learn more about college credit opportunities in our other programs.
Explore Your Financial Aid Options
We have a dedicated adviser on hand to help qualified students identify and apply for sources of financial aid funding. To get started, visit the Financial Aid section of the website or contact us for more information.
Recent Military Veterans & Their Spouses
Veterans and surviving family members of veterans whose deaths or disabilities were service connected may be eligible for educational benefits, including funds made available through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Additionally, honorably discharged military veterans may apply for International Culinary Center Veterans Tuition Scholarships. Speak to an admission representative for more information.
All students who pay in full the total cost of tuition for this program are eligible for a $500 Paid-In-Full Credit. The entire tuition due must be paid in full by cash, check, or credit card upon enrollment or no later than one week prior to the start date.