Specialized training in Spanish gastronomy for young foreign chefs
Spanish chef Juan Mari Arzak (right) with a young chef taking part in ICEX Spanish Gastronomy Training Program. Miguel S. Moñita/©ICEX.
Author: Sonia Ortega Sanz/©ICEX.
Since 2007, ICEX Spain Trade and Investment has offered the Spanish Gastronomy Training Program, an initiative created to provide specialized training in Spanish gastronomy for young foreign professionals, while simultaneously fostering their integral understanding of Spanish culture, language, history, and modern 21st century Spain.
Throughout the years, this Program has undergone changes with regard to its length, different phases, and the number of participants and their countries of origin. However, its objectives have remained the same. These fundamental objectives are:
- To familiarize a group of young, professional chefs with the products and foods used in Spanish cuisine, while encouraging their repeated consumption and later use in their respective countries.
- To create an international network of professionals with ties to Spanish gastronomy and cuisine, in the interest of supporting future promotional campaigns for these products and Spanish cuisine in general. In essence, to create a network of ambassadors for Spanish gastronomy.
Beginning with its sixth edition edition in 2012, the Spanish Gastronomy Training Program has been carried out in conjunction with the International School of Culinary Arts Fernando Pérez (EIC) in Valladolid, an organization that, among other things, has contributed its extensive experience in culinary education. What's more, EIC's annual International Tapas Competition will now serve as the forum for the Training Program's final competition.
What does the Program consist of?
The Spanish Gastronomy Training Program has one phase dedicated to studying Spanish gastronomic theory and another to its practice in restaurants. The Program culminates with a competition for all of the current edition’s participants. In total, the Program lasts for a period of five months.
During the initial phase, the students receive a practical immersion course in Spanish gastronomy, as well as intensive language and culture classes. Over the course of this first period, they also attend seminars and tastings of important products such as Spanish wines, olive oils, fish preserves, vegetable preserves, cheeses, Ibérico ham, Serrano ham, sausages..., and visit food manufacturing companies. In 2013 ICEX teamed up with the EIC in a new partnership that has brought with it a variety of changes. The chefs spent their first six weeks in Spain at the International School of Culinary Arts (EIC) in Valladolid, attending a combination of Spanish language lessons, regional cooking classes and seminars about Spanish gastronomic products – intermingled with trips to visit different Spanish regions.
The second phrase consists entirely of hands-on, practical work experience carried out at the program’s participating restaurants.
This is followed by a two week trip to different Spanish regions to visit markets, restaurants, and wineries, etc., as well as different Spanish food companies, which provide participants with a first-hand look at the manufacturing processes of key Spanish food companies, in order to instill them with a better sense of our products.
Finally, the program culminates with a culinary competition for all participants. Each chef is tasked with creating his or her own tapa, using a minimum number of ingredients from a pre-determined list of Spanish products. The dishes will be evaluated by a jury of experts from this field and both national and international food critics.
Who can participate?
Currently, the Program’s participants are young professionals or students who are in the final stages of culinary school in another country. In both instances, the participants must have the endorsement of a culinary training institution.
In terms of countries of origin, preference is generally given to aspiring participants from those countries highlighted in the ICEX Promotional Policy for food products.
Finally, the program’s list of participating restaurants are selected based on a combination of factors that include: representation of the best of Spanish cuisine (product, technique, creativity, industry leadership, international projection), criteria based on geographical location and a demonstration of interest on behalf of the restaurant in the promotion of Spanish gastronomy.
A unique program
Over the course of its seven editions – the sixth being in 2013 – this Program has trained a total of 86 foreign chefs from 21 countries. The application period is announced each year. Year after year, this innovative, one-of-a-kind Program receives ample coverage from local, national and international media outlets, as well as on direct ICEX channels (ICEX TV, www.foodsfromspain.com, www.icex.es)
Procedures for Candidates (2014)
You can find more information about 2014 ICEX Spanish Training Program here.
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