The largest incoming class yet began its studies today toward a bachelor's degree in culinary science at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). The class consists of 17 students, continuing the program's growth from nine students in the first group that began in February and 13 students who entered in May.
The college's new Culinary Science Lab includes a professional kitchen with precision temperature cooking equipment and other cutting-edge cooking tools; analytical lab with centrifuge, rotary evaporator, vacuum dessicator, incubator, and more used to conduct scientific experiments; sensory evaluation room; and lecture hall. Students use this state-of-the-art facility in courses that involve the application of new technologies, biology, physics, chemistry, sensory evaluation techniques, food microbiology and fermentation, and the cultural and social aspects of food and feeding.
"We get into the dynamics of heat transfer, ingredient functionality, flavor science," says culinary science major Kristin McGinn.
The program is built on the CIA's foundation of core culinary techniques and traditions and consists of junior- and senior-year studies after students earn associate degrees in culinary arts or baking and pastry arts.
According to Ronald Hayes, CIA associate director of career services, a culinary science degree opens many career doors. "Graduates with culinary science backgrounds are prepared for positions in some of the top innovative restaurants in the world like Noma and The Fat Duck and for research and development opportunities with PepsiCo, Nestlé, and Campbell's. In fact our students have already been recruited by these big names," says Hayes, author of Creating Your Culinary Career. "Their options are as unlimited as their imagination."
"I might get into flavor science, doing some consumer behavior testing, or I might look into the research and development side of things, working in test kitchens," says McGinn, who is beginning her senior year.
Culinary research and development can be a lucrative career. A 2011 survey by the American Culinary Federation found R&D chefs earn some of the highest pay in the industry—even more than restaurant executive chefs. They are highly sought after, both for the innovations they provide and the money they save for businesses.