Neci Goes High Tech With Online Culinary Curriculum

New England Culinary Institute (NECI) is extending its reach with a set of online courses targeted to culinary professionals and vocational school educators. The online curriculum draws on the intensive culinary training of NECI's Bachelor's degree, Associate's degree and certificate programs to give chefs and educators, who might not have time to go to culinary school full-time, the opportunity to boost their qualifications, enhance their resumes and build career prospects. This professional development will then allow them to pass along the information they've learned to their employees and students, expanding NECI's educational reach ten-fold.

"The intensity of today's culinary industry means professionals have less time, and NECI is keeping pace as the culinary education industry adapts to the demands of the future," says Francis Voigt, co-founder and president of NECI. "In no way is our online curriculum replacing what we have established on-campus over our 26 years, only enhancing it, giving many more working professionals the chance to further their education."

NECI's online curriculum initiative began one year ago, when a Carl T. Perkins grant allowed the award-winning school to develop an online cooking theory course. In January 2006, chef instructor and distance education coordinator Peg Checchi led seven students through the itinerary, discussing issues like why starches thicken sauces so well, what happens to proteins when heat is applied, and what effect sugar has on the cooking process. To complete the course, the students were also required to complete a one-week residency at NECI's Montpelier or Essex campus. This on-campus residency is required for some of the new courses as well, allowing students to round out their education in the tangible environment of a learning kitchen.

"Using today's technology, the expertise of NECI's instructors can be available to people all over the world," says Checchi, who teaches NECI's current online theory course. "It's now possible to explore new and exciting topics without having to commit to a long-term educational program."

Online courses begin January 2007 and run for 12 weeks. Course topics have been carefully selected for their suitability to an online learning environment and are geared toward those with prior experience. The following are currently open for enrollment:

 Cooking Theory and Food Science-With a focus on scientific principles and experimental method, students will explore the reaction of food to the application of heat. A one-week on-campus residency is required.
 History, Flavor and Culture-Students will survey the ways in which social and historical events, religious movements, significant individuals and the changing demands of food consumption have influenced a variety of cultures, including the character and substance of their cuisines. A one-week on-campus residency is required.
 Ethics-By engaging in ethical decision-making from a situational context, this course will support students in their growth toward effective problem solving, while exposing them to a variety of decision-making models.
 Nutrition-Students will expand their knowledge of basic human nutrition to learn how to provide healthy meals without sacrificing taste or appeal; to plan, manage and market effectively from a nutritional point of view; and to construct a menu and modify recipes accordingly.
 Sustainable Harvest-This course will examine how small farmers are coping with the movement toward agribusiness and how agribusiness is reacting to the developing trend toward more responsible stewardship of our natural resources.
 Effective Teaching in the Online Environment-This course will help instructors understand how to utilize today's changing technology to enhance online course delivery, to maximize student interest


Nancy Civetta
T: 617.577.8098
Civetta Comunicazioni | 90 Hamilton Street | Cambridge | MA | 02139