Reinfeld says there will be a four-month professional training program for those looking to start a career in the plant-based culinary world, including aspiring personal chefs, food truck owners, catering professionals and those wanting to work in or own a restaurant. Bur there will also be a vegan curriculum aimed at industry veterans, “for people who have been around the block but don’t know too much about vegan,” Reinfeld says.
On the home-cooking side, the chef and cookbook author hopes to bring plant-based cooking to a wide audience beyond practicing vegans, so there will be fun evening sessions such as date-night classes and programs for kids. Potential offerings include vegan cheese making, pastries and desserts.
“The space is large enough where we want to do movie screenings and guest lectures from plant-based chefs,” Reinfeld explains. “We also want to do fundraisers for nonprofits and pop-ups.
An opening hasn't been confirmed yet, but Reinfeld is hoping to start taking registrations in April and launching the first big programs in August.
Reinfeld rose to fame with his restaurant, Blossoming Lotus, in Hawaii, and with his first book, Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, co-authored by Bo Rinaldi. The chef says he chose Boulder for the school because of the many food innovators here. “Boulder is one of the main birthplaces of the natural-food movement,” he points out. “There’s a lot of awareness with what’s going on with climate changes, food choices and environmental impact.”
The chef has been at the forefront of the vegan food movement since the early 1990s. “There was nowhere near the innovation and creativity that you find today,” he says. “It’s way more sophisticated [now]."
The demand for more plant-based options has grown significantly, he adds, and not just from vegans and vegetarians, but from an increasing number of “veg-curious” people and more people who just want to eat less meat. “The biggest obstacle is mental,” Reinfeld says of the challenges of plant-based cooking.
For more information, visit Chef Mark Reinfeld's Vegan Fusion Culinary Academy website.