Chef Chris Curtiss shows Classic Cooking Academy students how to prepare foie gras.

Classic Cooking Academy Blends French and Native American Techniques

Classic Cooking Academy 2011 Graduates

Only one culinary school combines classic French techniques with American Indian trends and traditions—the Classic Cooking Academy (CCA) in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The nonprofit school teaches culinary basics and has a Native American Culinary department, which according to the school’s website, “encourages the use of ingredients indigenous to the Americas in new ways the world has yet to see.”

The department encourages healthier ways of food preparation to address the growing problems of diabetes, heart disease and obesity among American Indian populations and teaches the history of Native American culinary trends and traditions.

According to the Office of Minority Health—part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services—American Indian/Alaska Native adults are 2.1 times as likely as white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes and 1.6 times as likely to be obese compared to non-Hispanic whites.

CCA was granted accreditation through the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET) in February so students can now qualify for federal financial aid.

Graduates of the school go on to work in restaurants, hotels, casinos and catering companies. David Collier, who studied under the school’s co-founder and executive chef Pascal Dionot, is now executive pastry chef for The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City.

“I have been able to take the tools Chef Pascal started me with and use them to please my customers and food writers, and have even gone so far to be chosen as a semi-finalist for National Pastry Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation,” Collier says on the website.

With the next session beginning March 5, 2012 interested students can apply online at

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fosho's picture
Submitted by fosho on
this school is not at all is the story goes! they have no clue to what native food is and this David was never a student of Classic Cooking! This school is a example of how businesses pretend to help natives but don't care at all about natives or first nations peoples! If you don't believe this call them and ask them what their idea of native food is!

editors's picture
Submitted by editors on
We stand corrected regarding Chef Collier’s education. A response from CCA follows: <em>"David Collier is a former student of Pascal Dionot's from his time at L'Academie de Cuisine. We have Chef Collier's testimonial on Pascal on the Classic Cooking site, and there was clearly some confusion when information was taken off our website to write it. We in no way intended on leading anyone to believe that he was a student of Classic Cooking Academy; the full testimonial may be viewed at A majority of the curriculum focuses on classic French training – the foundation of contemporary culinary culture – with an emphasis on Native American culinary history and culture which demonstrates how indigenous foods play a vital role in today's diet. The six-month program approaches food from a Native American perspective, including culinary customs and technologies, concepts of sustainable agriculture, health and nutrition."</em>