Mexico is squarely on the global map of haute cuisine thanks to the pioneering work of the Instituto Culinario de México (ICUM) in Puebla. Launched in 1994 in the home of founder Giovanna Medina, ICUM now boasts over 1,500 graduates, including some of the region’s most talented and prize-winning chefs.
Students come from all over Latin America to complete nine grueling semesters, including internships in restaurants in Mexico and abroad. But ICUM’s rigorous standards pay off. Graduates have won some of the industry’s most prestigious contests, such as Michigan’s Nation’s Cup International Culinary Competition and the French Coupe Européenne et Internationale Georges Baptiste.
Amateurs can get a taste of ICUM at one of the school’s three restaurants in Puebla and two in Monterrey, where it established a branch in 2002. Next steps include expanded collaboration with partners in Europe and North America.
At $5,000 per year, the institute isn’t cheap, but scholarships are available for some students.
The most rewarding thing, says Jose Villalvoza, General Director of ICUM-Monterrey, is that “16 years ago, ICUM was the first Mexican culinary arts school. Today, more than 60 schools are owned and operated by our former students.”