Amanda Freitag, a famous American chef, and star of the cooking TV show “Chopped”, visited Armenia on June 1-6 as part of the joint initiative of the Culinary Diplomacy Project and the U.S. Embassy. The Diplomacy Project aimed to promote a sustainable food value chain and culinary entrepreneurship. On June 2, during her visit, the famous chef was hosted by the Academy of Culinary Arts and Hospitality of Yeremyan Projects and shared her experience and skills with the students.
Armenia's appeal as a gastronomic hub and the uniqueness of Armenian cuisine and products sparked Freitag's interest, which served as key motivations for her visit to the country.
"Passing on the knowledge and experience I've gained from my teachers is important to me. That's why I'm here in Armenia, to share my expertise globally. I'm captivated by the operations of this new culinary academy and the cooking practices here. The fresh, simple Armenian food and bread-baking culture have really impressed me. Local dishes are incredibly delicious. I believe New York needs a restaurant showcasing Armenian cuisine," stated Freitag.
Freitag had a meeting with Davit Yeremyan, the Founder of Yeremyan Projects. She got an in-depth look at the Academy's state-of-the-art classrooms, kitchen facilities, and educational offerings. Yeremyan, acknowledging the importance of such ventures, stressed that the Academy was founded to foster knowledgeable ambassadors for Armenian cuisine—one of the world's oldest.
"We founded the Academy in 2019 having a vision to educate a new generation of chefs who could rise to international standards. In pursuit of this goal, we carried out extensive research into global practices, carefully considering various factors before selecting the British model. Our educational programs bear the certification of Activate Learning Group, City of Oxford College, UK. Our alumni are not just competitive in the domestic market, but also make their mark in international spheres. Alongside their culinary education, students enhance their proficiency in English, apply their learning in practical environments, and seize numerous training opportunities actively," said Yeremyan.
Yeremyan noted that the institution has had 1500 graduates in the last four years. Some graduates work in different countries, including the United States and Europe. Twenty percent of the graduates work in the restaurants of Yeremyan Projects.
Freitag organized a competition for the future chefs of Armenia studying at Yeremyan Academy, following the format of the renowned American cooking show Chopped. Amanda gave the contestants baskets of food with mystery ingredients, challenging them to prepare an appetizer, main course, and dessert using the basket's contents. She was very impressed by the enthusiasm and creative approaches of the participants.
Along with Freitag, Karen Khachatryan, the head of the "Culinary Art" educational programs of the Academy of Culinary Arts and Hospitality of Yeremyan Projects, the chef of Renommée restaurant, evaluated the teams' work. The participants were awarded certificates.
The meeting with the world-famous chef and the chance to get her professional advice was a unique experience for the students of the Academy. They were very enthusiastic about that experience, so they spared no effort to show all their skills and creative potential.
A series of cooking demonstrations, master classes, and workshops with Armenian chefs and food entrepreneurs were carried out as part of Armenian visit of the famous American chef Freitag.