Wednesday, February 17, 2010

MMMGood Curriculum Innovation: An Interview with Todd Rymer

Why is Todd Studying a Seed Catalog?

As a food professional, Todd Rymer, Director of Culinary Education at the Vail /Eagle Valley Campus has been following Chefs Collaborative, one of the first organizations to directly connect chefs with food growers, for over a dozen years. Todd helped found a Slow Food convivia (chapter) in the Vail Valley about six years ago. Slow Food is an international organization promoting food that is “good, clean, and fair.” The movement focuses on local food as well as food free of chemicals, and food that provides a fair wage for the agricultural growers.

In addition to these important issues, a sustainable foodservice operation must also consider issues of energy, water consumption, chemicals, equipment, to-go containers, recycling and marketing of “green” practice. About three years ago, CMC added a course in Sustainable Cuisine to the CCCNS. As consumers and foodservice operators have further embraced sustainability, market research provided support to move this knowledge and practice into the CMC curriculum – an academic process that requires patience in the face of curriculum development that can still be timely and competitive.

So starting next fall, CMC will offer a certificate in Sustainable Cuisine Operations. In addition to many of the culinary courses already in the curriculum, the certificate includes: Intro to Sustainable Cuisine, Sustainable Food Operations and a revised course that adds vegan and vegetarian entrees preparation to Center of the Plate courses that formerly focused on beef, pork, poultry, and seafood entrees. As the certificate is expanded, courses will be offered in agro-ecology to help students learn about the environmental impacts of food production for restaurants that not only buy food, but grow it.

As we ended our conversation last week, I noticed a seed catalog on his desk—why was it on his desk? It’s part of his ongoing professional development—he’s taking a Colorado Master Gardner’s Class to forward his own expertise and share that development back with the newest of practices.