NESCO—the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization—this week named San Antonio a Creative City of Gastronomy, and The Culinary Institute of America played a major role in helping San Antonio earn that designation. In announcing the honor, city officials credited the CIA’s establishment of a campus in the Pearl district in 2008 as a milestone in turning San Antonio into a culinary showcase.

“The Culinary Institute of America’s presence has been impactful in bringing world-class culinary education and research to the heart of San Antonio,” says Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit San Antonio. “San Antonio’s rich culinary and cultural heritage was a key draw to the CIA’s decision to expand to San Antonio and we are delighted the city’s heritage continues to be a part of its program. As one of the highlights of the vibrant Pearl neighborhood, the school has been a catalyst to help grow our culinary scene.”

The CIA San Antonio offers degrees in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry Arts, and juniors and seniors at the New York campus can spend a semester in San Antonio as part of the college’s academic concentration in Latin Cuisine Studies. The campus is also host to an annual Latin Cuisine Summit that brings food professionals from throughout the Americas to San Antonio.

“The CIA is proud to be an integral part of the city’s burgeoning culinary scene,” says April Goess, managing director of the CIA San Antonio. “Our campus was an early anchor at Pearl—which has quickly become a destination for food enthusiasts—and our graduates provide much of the city’s culinary talent.”

CIA graduate Johnny Hernandez is a chef and restaurateur whose Grupo La Gloria includes some of San Antonio’s most successful restaurants. “From showcasing our culinary heritage to sharing local innovations and leading the way with San Antonio’s brand of culinary diplomacy, the opportunities afforded us as a City of Gastronomy are all reasons for San Antonio to celebrate,” Hernandez says.

San Antonio is the second U.S. city, after Tucson, AZ, to be named a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. The city’s 18th century Spanish colonial missions previously made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Industry News, Non-Commercial