A curriculum framework for continuing professional development in culinary studies
Culinary studies is a relatively young and unfamiliar field of study which engages the application of life and natural sciences, business and technology in a food-specific environment. The growth in the demand for training, re-training and continuing professional development in the culinary arts can be attributed to factors such as enhanced culinary programmes at high school level, an increased level of education and expectation about food in general, growth in culinary tourism and highly polished food magazines or other publications. The celebrity status of high-profile chefs and a stronger economy that enables more people to explore fine dining and gourmet food can be added to the list of factors that influence the interest in culinary arts as a profession. The number of qualified culinary professionals has increased over the last 10 years in South Africa, providing a large corps of people with a good understanding of this field of study and a need for continuing professional development opportunities. This study was a response to the challenges of the demand for continuing professional development opportunities from this growing body of culinary professionals. The demand for continuing professional development opportunities in culinary studies is becoming more complex and challenging for both learner and teacher. Although institutions that provide training in hospitality are also in the business of culinary education, their perspectives and focus are quite diverse. Culinary education can therefore be improved through a deeper understanding of the curriculum development process combined with the expectations of both the industry and the individual. A fundamental shortcoming in the field of culinary education is often that persons with limited expertise in the field of curriculum studies bear the primary responsibility for addressing curriculum challenges. The development of curricula for professional development in culinary studies subsequently happens at the expense of understanding the curriculum. The primary aim therefore of this study was to identify and propose a curriculum framework for continuing professional development in culinary arts. This framework might contribute to providing a curriculum foundation, credibility to the broad hospitality industry and specifically to culinary studies, as well as to the securing of some uniformity of standards over the spectrum of culinary qualifications. A scientifically validated situational analysis was executed by means of focus group discussions, personal interviews, curriculum comparisons and an electronic mail questionnaire survey, which mainly generated qualitative data. These techniques were used in triangulation as research instruments to investigate the needs for continuing professional development in culinary arts and the availability of curricula to address these needs. The greatest challenges in culinary studies were reflected in the complexity and multidisciplinary nature of this relatively undefined industry and field of study. The intricate relation, interaction, collaboration and contexts between secondary schools, various culinary training institutions, industry and culinary professionals were investigated. The data generated confirmed the need for training and development opportunities to improve the professional status of culinary professionals in South Africa The promotion of a change in direction for culinary studies development in South Africa could ensure future growth as a discipline cognitively and professionally, in line with international standards, procedures and practices. The range of challenges and changes facing the industry varies from social issues to the educational issues of qualifications and credible accreditations, which are addressed in the proposed curriculum framework. The lack of more empirical research in this field of study is an indication that both students and professionals should be encouraged to do the relevant research and that higher education institutions should provide the opportunities and structures for such research.