French Chef Exchange

A History of DMACC's French Chef Exchange

ici chefsThe DMACC French Chef Exchange is a tradition that gives our students and friends of the Culinary Arts Program an unmatched education experience.

Since 1986 Des Moines Area Community College has hosted a French Chef Exchange with Des Moines' French sister city St. Etienne, France. Each January, two chefs from the Association des Cuisiniers de la Loire (the Chefs' Association from the St-Etienne region) spend two weeks on the DMACC Ankeny Campus as guest lecturers and visiting chefs for the Culinary Arts Program, demonstrating their techniques of classical French cuisine to all of our culinary arts students and faculty.

The visiting chefs also plan the menu and supervise the food preparations by Culinary Arts students for the two January French gourmet dinners. The special dinners are a highlight feature of DMACC's annual international gourmet dinner series.

Culinary Arts Program graduates have an opportunity to expand their international culinary experience. Each May, Culinary Arts Program Chair and​ ICI Director John Andres and DMACC French instructor Maura Nelson​ lead students on a 12-day exchange trip to Paris and other French regions of France to visit open-air food markets, experience food and wine tastings, and attend a cooking class at the Cordon Bleu. They can add on to their trip in the St-Etienne region where they can serve individual culinary apprenticeships for up to two weeks in restaurants of chefs from the Loire Association.

The French Chef Exchange has greatly enhanced the DMACC Culinary Arts Program by providing all the culinary students with an opportunity for an unforgettable experience and the chance to learn traditional French cooking techniques from French master chefs.

Friends of the French Chefs

With wide community acclaim, the French Chefs Program is the grand feature of DMACC's Culinary Arts Program. To support the community interest and raise funds to support student trips, a group of community members have formed the Friends of the French Chefs. Member of the group often accompany the staff and students on trips to France and have been loyal supporters of the gourmet dinner series.

Recognizing the importance of this program, they organize fundraising events, including an annual Silent Auction that is a huge financial support to the students and program. Proceeds from the auction fund the French Chef Exchange, with money used to partially cover the students' cost of their trip to France, plus travel and expenses of the visiting French guest chef lecturers.