Yale and MAD Partner to Lead New Discourse for Chefs

Yale University and MAD, a Danish non-profit dedicated to improving food culture, announced a partnership to develop a new leadership institute for chefs. This program, to be piloted next spring at Yale, will help create and curate new discussions among leading chefs as their influence continues to develop past the walls of the restaurant.

“Our goal is to help chefs take action,” says René Redzepi, founder of MAD—the Danish word for “food”—and chef-patron of noma, widely considered one of the world’s most influential restaurants. “Partnering with Yale is an opportunity to realize the potential we believe the chefs have to influence how we eat now and in the future. Combining this with the university’s fantastic legacy and educational resources we think can provide a new knowledge base, one that has often been overlooked, that will reinvent the leadership role of chefs in initiating new conversations on topics like kitchen culture, sustainability, inclusiveness, and respect.”

MAD and Yale believe that chefs wield unprecedented influence, and that they can offer new perspectives and solutions to serious global issues. The institute will thus expose participants to experiences, ideas, and principles that they can use to think creatively and critically about food-related issues.

“Yale is excited to partner with MAD to inspire a new era of leadership in food,” says Jonathan Holloway, dean of Yale College. “Participants will leave the program with a compassionate understanding of the socio-economic, environmental, and health challenges facing food systems around the world, and be inspired to bring lasting change. This is also a unique opportunity for Yale students, who will play a central role in conducting the institute and employ proven and personalized co-mentorship models to inform and inspire the chefs.”

The MAD Institute at Yale will begin with a pilot program in 2016: a group of six to eight top chefs and food leaders that will test and build the curriculum in an intensive weeklong summit. In 2017 the program will be extended to two weeks and expand to host 15 to 18 participants every two years chosen through an application process. 

“The educational program we’re creating will reflect the realities of our changing profession and a changing world, offering new ideas on how to overcome its obstacles as well as ways in which we can harness its potential,” Redzepi says.

The MAD Institute at Yale will draw upon the university’s rich and varied programming in food studies. The Yale Sustainable Food Program, established in 2001, runs two teaching farms on campus, and supports a range of curricular and extra-curricular study. The program connects students from across academic disciplines to opportunities for study and practice in food, health, and the environment.

The institute will also compliment MAD’s annual symposium, a two-day conference held in Copenhagen where chefs, producers, academics, and activists convene to share knowledge and ideas about improving their trade.
While planning and fundraising for next summer’s inaugural institute are in early stages, the program will feature lectures, workshops, and discussion seminars, as well as visits to nearby farms, kitchens, and food system innovations and innovators. With faculty mentorship from Yale and other institutions and organizations, participants will engage controversial and complex issues with critical academic rigor.

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