By Deborah Kidd, Marketing Manager
We were ready to learn — but also ready to lunch. A group of staff from The Nature Conservancy in Washington recently took a midday trip to the Seattle Culinary Academy at Seattle Central College located in the heart of Capitol Hill.
But a tasty gourmet meal wasn’t the only draw — we came hungry for knowledge about the academy’s commitment to sustainability and “Earth-kind” practices. The Seattle Culinary Academy was the first school in the country to require each student take a farm-to-table course, starting in 2005.
Chef Drew Flanders whet our appetites with a tour through the academy’s world-class kitchen, complete with a dedicated chocolate room! (Sadly, there were no samples for curious interlopers peeking in during a class session.) From the spacious, sun-filled stations that span breads to butchery, to a mill for grinding ancient grains, students and instructors work together to sharpen their skills, as well as feed their fellow students.
Throughout training, the chef instructors emphasize “respect for the animal, respect for the land,” according to Chef Flanders. This is especially evident in the academy’s nose-to-tail butchery philosophy: a growing movement that aims to use every possible part of an animal for cooking and consumption, minimizing waste and honoring the animal as well as the natural resources necessary to raise it. It’s a tall order. As Flanders noted, “It takes a special skill set to turn tripe into something delicious.”
After our whirlwind tour, we finally sat for a one-of-a-kind meal at the One World Restaurant. With fresh, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, the beautiful dishes pleased our conservationist sensibilities as well as our senses.
Even outside the cutting-edge kitchen and specialty chef selections, we can bring this reverence to our tables every day, understanding where our food comes from and taking care of the natural resources that help cultivate our cuisine. After all, agriculture is a Washington legacy. Healthy lands, fresh water, and thriving oceans feed not only our bellies, but also our economy, ensuring livelihoods throughout Washington.