International Chops

TRAVERSE CITY – It's one thing to make French cuisine in northern Michigan. It's quite another to completely immerse yourself in French gastronomy.

While international flavors have long been a part of NMC's Great Lakes Culinary Institute (GLCI) program, for the first time this spring a group of six students will head to France for a culinary-themed study abroad trip, accompanied by GLCI chef and instructor Lucy House.

"As a staff, we're committed to international experiences like this trip to France," says Fred Laughlin, director of the culinary institute. "We've been thinking about an experience like this for some time and looking for the right venue. It's extremely beneficial to travel outside the country and have that international experience."

France was selected for its prominence in the world of cuisine, Laughlin adds.

The 10-day trip includes vineyard tours, visits to boulangeries, cheese makers and chocolatiers, stops at local farms and markets, regional dinners and – of course – some cooking. This trip is the capstone for these six students who will graduate from the program this spring.

The GLCI students are exposed to a fair amount of international cuisine during their studies at NMC, explains Laughlin, even if they don't have an opportunity to travel abroad. They study world cuisine as part of the curriculum, and also host several dinners throughout the school year at Lobdell's, the culinary program's teaching restaurant, that take diners on culinary journeys thousands of miles away from northern Michigan.

Even so, Laughlin would like to incorporate more international learning and experiences into the program – which could someday include a culinary school exchange program – to keep the program competitive in the training of future chefs.

The Great Lakes Culinary Institute will be hosting a "Tastes of France" reception on March 16 to raise funds for the trip. You can check out details for that event – as well as other international feasts at Lobdell's slated for this spring – at BN