Professor Richard Mitchell celebrated his professorial appointment with a unique event that put his research and teaching into practice.
In the last ten years culinary arts education has come under pressure from sources including:
- An outpouring of culinary innovation with a faster pace of change
- Popularity of culinary design in food media, glamourising celebrity chefs
- Promotion of design-led business and creative industries by the New Zealand government
- Increasing expectations of sustainability and ethical food production
The industry now needs culinary arts graduates who don't just have a high level of technical skills but are also highly creative - can think on their feet, adapt quickly, and adjust to consumers who have an insatiable appetite for food knowledge. Successful restaurants are more likely to be able to articulate a strong overarching concept that characterised the business offering, beyond the type of food and its quality. In response to these expectations, and informed by the research of Richard and others, Otago Polytechnic introduced its Bachelor of Culinary Arts, with design-thinking at its core. Students learn fundamental skills, including understanding how and why those work, then apply them to their own unique project, using prototyping, evaluation and iteration.
Richard's research trajectory has traced the ways in which adults learn from their experiences – including through exhibitions, travel, and of course through culinary experiences. Learning has become a leisure activity which people engage in for pleasure, adding value to the sum of their experiences. Food is no longer merely a product, but an expression of ideas and part of an experience that can combine performance, entertainment, art, and social commentary - experiential consumption.
Richard's celebratory professorial event on 5 November was a five-course meal for invited guests. The successful event, narrated by Richard, was co-designed, prepared and presented with a team of three students Jake De Clifford, Rebecca Bateman, and Adam Driver.