The Perfect Recipe for Success
Barely a year old, the Miami Culinary Institute (MCI) at Miami Dade College is surpassing all expectations in terms of enrollment growth.
Students are flocking to the Institute for its celebrated educational environment – bolstered by stellar courses and unique learning opportunities, seasoned faculty with impressive industry experience, and exceptional facilities that include world-class kitchens and labs and a student-run café.
“This amazing College has produced the most cutting-edge, state-of-the-art culinary school in the country at less than half the tuition cost of any private program in Florida,” said MCI Director John Richards of the Wolfson Campus-based program, which opened to great fanfare last fall. “Many people in our community would not have any chance at a culinary education if it were not for MDC. The value and excellence is incredible.”
MCI takes a unique approach in efforts to recruit and retain students, starting with a tactic Richards calls “intrusive advisement.”
“We have a full team of our own academic and financial advisors so our culinary students don’t get lost in the shuffle,” he said. “We personally walk them through the process of getting grants and loans so they are not so overwhelmed. We help take away the intimidation factor.”
The MCI team is also proactive in communicating with prospective students.
“On our website, people inquire for information. I answer every one of those emails personally,” Richards said. “Since March, I’ve had more than 4,000 inquires about our program.”
The Institute has had so much interest that Richards anticipates it will be nearing capacity next fall. He expects hundreds of applicants will compete for perhaps 50 openings for new students. MCI is developing a selection process to acknowledge those who have the most talent, best GPAs, most outstanding culinary vision and the greatest need to attend the Institute.
“A lot of care and thought went into MCI to make sure this facility wasn’t just a big box with a bunch of kitchens teaching people how to cook,” Richards said. “We are a boutique program, and it’s only a matter of time until this becomes a program you have to audition for because there will be so much demand to be part of this outstanding institution.”
Focus on Sustainability
Prospective students often are drawn to the Institute’s message of sustainability, realizing they will emerge from the program with invaluable insights into the impact of buying locally, recycling and ways to reduce the carbon footprint of restaurants. Not only will they know how to cook, but they are also going to be able to ask intelligent questions about the environment, food and the culture of their employers, Richards said.
“There are those students who instantly hear our message that cooking is more than just cooking, and they want to hear how our profession impacts our community and our culture,” he said. “We approach our whole program from sustainability, and there are young students who are really passionate about that. They realize they need to be part of the solution of how our country will feed this nation in the future.”