Arizona's Classic Cooking Academy combines classic French technique with traditional American Indian foods. (Photo courtesy of the Classing Cook Academy website gallery)

Arizona Culinary School Recruits American Indians, Now Available for Federal Financial Aid


A Scottsdale, Arizona-based cooking school that actively recruits American Indians to attend its culinary program now allows students to qualify for federal financial aid.

The Classic Cooking Academy received accreditation for students to apply for federal funding through the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET). "Now when students want to attend our six-month, professional culinary program, they can apply for federal financial aid, including Pell Grants," said Classic Cooking Academy co-founder and executive chef Pascal Dionot.

Since the nonprofit Academy opened in 2005, American Indian students from the Gila River, Hopi and Southern Ute nations have successfully graduated from the full-time program. The culinary school is designed to combine classic French techniques with modern American Indian cuisine--a recipe that can provide a solid foundation for a culinary career, according to the Academy's press release.

"With the growing number of resort casinos with multiple restaurants throughout the country--including 16 in Arizona--it only makes sense for Native Americans to consider a career in the culinary arts," said Dionot. "We are the only culinary school to incorporate Native American foods and cuisine in our full-time professional course. We include Native American aspects of food in every facet of our program."

For recent graduate Izat Ghanem,the program lead him to a recent promotion to  main cook at Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

To enroll in the next six-month, full-time program, beginning Monday, March 7, interested students can register by contacting Donna Dionot at 480.502.0177. For more information, visit

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