The International Culinary Center To Host First Cooking with Bugs Class + Why This Is Important!

Getting more chefs involved will be critical to the public’s education around and acceptance of bugs as ingredients. With over 2000 edible insect flavors to explore, chefs have a relatively untouched treasure chest of ingredients to explore, each with unique, complex flavor profiles. 

Chefs are the Gate Keepers of consumer preference and continue to expand our cuisines with innovative concepts and casual, eclectic menus. It’s not uncommon for one chef alone to drive a vibrant micro food culture in a city, thus expanding appreciation for new foods and dishes that impact customers’ attitudes nationwide.

According to Menus of Change, the past two years have been dominated by vegetable-focused menus, resulting in a “normalization” of vegetable dishes as fully belonging on acclaimed menus and as “vehicles for culinary creativity.” It is my goal to see a similar trend with bugs. It will be key for chefs to champion our efforts to gain consumer acceptance of bugs as ingredients.

For these reasons, I’m elated to announce words my mother never thought she would hear: I’ll be partnering with the International Culinary Center (ICC) for a class titled “How & Why We Eat Bugs.” The class will include a guided tasting and is open to the public on Monday, August 27, 2018, from 3:00 – 5:00 pm at the Campbell, CA campus.


More About The ICC Bug Event:

The goal is to open dialogue with future rockstar chefs about how what we eat impacts our bodies and our environment. We’ll examine the challenges faced by entrepreneurs, discuss how to overcome the stigma surrounding edible bugs and encourage chefs of the next generation to have an open mind to the opportunities that tasty critters offer. The tasting will explore the delicate flavor profiles of edible insects, like grasshoppers and bamboo worms, first-hand.

The International Culinary Center has long been fostering a focus on sustainability through the Professional Culinary Arts program with an extension of Farm-to-Table focused learning. Connecting culinary training to the beginning of the food chain, ICC students learn firsthand how food production, distribution, sustainability and food go hand-in-hand. The conversation of alternative food sources is certainly one that is important to encourage amongst our students and alumni as they enter the restaurant & hospitality industry.

“At ICC, students learn to rethink ingredients that they’ve already been exposed to. Breaking these ideologies of what we’ve grown to believe, we can reshape how we see food, in this case, bugs. When the students complete their program, they are armed with the techniques and foundations to work with an array of ingredients. Why not add bugs to that arsenal!” – Yeojin Yi, Associate Director of Culinary Relations

To reserve your place at this event, please RSVP to For Media Inquiries please contact Kristen Lau, Director of Marketing at


Bugs’ Culinary Potential

There are over 2,000 species of edible bugs, and many more to be discovered. They all have unique, beautiful flavor profiles just waiting to be explored.

Imagine that you have a friend who is an artist. She paints beautiful pictures, but only uses red, pink, and yellow. She can make lovely paintings, but one day you show her the other rainbow of colors that exist – the blues, greens, purples, oranges, silvers, and more. Now she can make even more vivid paintings.

That’s where we are in the culinary world. We have a huge range of raw ingredients that chefs use, but there are rainbows of additional flavors to explore with bugs! And bugs can be tasty.


The top restaurant in the world, Noma, has made use of bugs for many years on their menu. Fancy restaurants in France serve up snails – or escargot. Here’s another fun fact: Bugs are small enough that the quite literally are what they eat. If you have some crickets and feed them mint, they will have a minty flavor. If you feed your crickets banana, they will adopt a banana flavor. If you feed your crickets carrots, they will turn orange! There is so much we have to explore with bugs and we are just at the very beginning.

Some put bugs into three unofficial flavor categories. The first nutty and earthy. Crickets and mealworms are examples of bugs that taste a little like seeds, nuts, or mushrooms. The second is fishy and seafood-like. Locusts and scorpions are examples of bugs that have been compared to crab. The third is meaty and savory. Sago grubs are often called the bacon of the bug world.


How Chefs Carry Big Environmental Impact

Bugs are relatively unexplored treasures of ingredients. To communicate this with the world, we need innovative foodservice efforts to further establish the pleasure aspect of bugs in dishes with bug-forward menus. While it remains to be seen whether more restaurants will evaluate the environmental impact of their menus, recent surveys suggest that our understanding of sustainability issues continues to grow.

Recent articles have emerged that shed light on “ingredient impact.” For example, in cold weather states, lettuce grown there off-season in unheated hoop houses has a lower carbon footprint than that of ‘shipped-in’ lettuce grown outdoors in California. As the conversation around sustainability and impact continues to grow, we could see increased messaging around the environmental benefits of greater bug consumption. Additionally, restaurants and foodservice operations in all categories continue to make serious efforts to reduce their food waste (that often translate into cost-savings as well.)


Why Chefs Drive Consumer Preference

In the age of social media, consumers value transparency at increasingly higher levels of the supply chain. This can be used to the advantage of chefs, as the greatest possible trickle-down effect on consumer attitudes occurs when chefs are as transparent as possible with their audience when it comes to detailing what goes into their menu design.

Consumers may gain a greater appreciation for a chef’s creative strategies when, beyond tasting good, dishes contribute favorably to food waste or greenhouse gas reduction. Chefs have increased access to consumers on continually-amplified social media platforms. They’re even often considered ‘digital influencers,’ making it even more important for them to be educated on a range of health, sustainability, business, and social issues. Only then will they be able to communicate accurately what drives their decision-making, from both creative and business perspectives (Menus of Change – Chefs’ Influencer on Consumer Attitudes.)

Framing Bugs As Ingredients

There’s a saying: it’s always easier to go down that it is to go up. Actually, I’m not sure if that is a saying. But is certainly a known fact in the insect community that it will benefit the public perception of edible insects if we start with gourmet chefs and top restaurants rather than pushing bugs as an ’emergency food.’ Ideally, bugs will be available to empower communities already comfortable eating them and updated farming methods will make a big difference in malnourished communities. But if we want bugs to be an ‘everybody food,’ a staple rather than a novelty, we must start at the top.


We must admit to the catch-22 situation: while it’s hoped bug eating will become a notable global trend, turning them into an ‘aspirational’ food trend like kale or wheatgrass means certain bug dishes won’t be affordable for everyone… yet. But bugs have to be affordable for people to access them on a wide scale, and to get to that point we must increase the demand.

The father of cooking with bugs, Chef David George Gordon (aka The Bug Chef) shared some insight on how we might better work with chefs, “With insects, it’s challenging because most chefs in our country don’t have much experience or expertise in that arena. But there are many culinary tricks of the trade that chefs can bring to play, making the dishes they serve look and taste good, regardless of how many legs they ingredients may have. As such, they are important contributors to the process of gaining acceptance for bug cuisine.”

He brings up a great point. Many chefs might be hesitant to work with bugs simply because they don’t know how yet. We can change that with a strong educational push.

For this reason and many others, I’m thrilled and grateful to the International Culinary Center for opening their minds and mouths to the idea of eating bugs. The members of the ICC community continue to demonstrate their commitment to innovation and global mindfulness.


To reserve your place at this event, please RSVP to For Media Inquiries please contact Kristen Lau, Director of Marketing at


Founded by the late Dorothy Cann Hamilton as The French Culinary InstituteTM in 1984,
the International Culinary Center® (ICC®) is a global leader in professional culinary, pastry and wine education, with programs in New York City and Silicon Valley, California, and graduates from more than 85 countries. The renowned six-month Total ImmersionSM program has produced such talents as Bobby Flay, David Chang, Dan Barber, Joshua Skenes, Christina Tosi and 15,000 more under the guidance of deans including Jacques Pépin and Jacques Torres. ICC’s mission is to train the next generation of culinary leaders and innovators, providing students with the credentials, confidence and connections to chart a successful career anywhere in the world.



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