Curriculum development and delivery of secondary culinary arts programmes: Is there a recipe for success?

Author: Jeff Thomas

Curriculum Development and Delivery of Secondary Culinary Arts Programmes: Is there a Recipe for Success?

Jeff Thomas
21 February 2018

Thomas, J. F. H. (2018). Curriculum development and delivery of secondary Culinary Arts programmes: Is there a recipe for success? (A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Master of Professional Practice, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand). [PDF 4.7MB]


The overall goal of my MPP was to create a piece of work which culinary educators, curriculum leaders and learners within the Culinary Arts field will find tangible, usable and thought provoking.  I hoped to create radical collegiality which may ignite within educators a spark which drives novel approaches, and consideration towards how design and creativity are derived in relation to Culinary Arts methodology and pedagogy.

Over the last decade and daily I have experienced the issue of designing and delivering authentic and relevant Culinary Arts curricula, curricula that provides learners with the knowledge and skill set which will enable them to segue into a Tertiary Culinary Arts programme or straight into industry with little or no lag.  Frequently when discussing the planning of Culinary programmes, design and creativity are not mentioned.  It appears that they are not valued or realised as valuable components.  I believe that they are in fact the unsung and undervalued heroes of our Culinary Arts programmes.  In order to allow design and creativity to be valued and developed however, I believe we need to add the human touch to Food Education and that starts with the concept of designerly thinking. 

Designerly thinking necessitates design and creativity because they synthesise thinking, ideation and practical skills.  Design and creativity must be a valued part of our culture if we are to move forward as a nation of creative and critical problem solvers, with a nation of lifelong learners.  Designerly thinking will start this change.  It is a sad indictment that the acknowledgment of the importance of design and creativity in an area that centres around problem solving won’t happen easily.  This project clearly shows not only the importance of fostering designerly thinking, but also provides a vehicle to do so.

Curriculum design and delivery within the Culinary Arts field at Secondary level has for years struggled with the issue of being torn between four subject areas. Often under the title of Food Technology, the myriad of combinations has crippled practitioners when instead it should be empowering them. 

This inquiry has encouraged me to consider and unpack the question: Curriculum Development and Delivery of Secondary Culinary Arts Programmes:  Is there a Recipe for Success?

I have investigated whether there is a place within the Culinary landscape at Secondary level for an alternative to the current model of creation and delivery of Culinary programmes.  I have considered the current model being delivered and why, and I have suggested an alternative to this model.  My alternative model was trialled and tested.  Students have been taught using this alternative and their feedback or ‘student voice’ was collated and analysed.  Using this feedback, I have then adjusted my model.  The results show quite clearly that the alternative is not only valid and acceptable for the Culinary landscape at Secondary level, but is also an enjoyable method to operate with, from both Teacher and student perspective.

Keywords: Culinary Arts, education, curriculum development, secondary culinary

This research was supervised by Glenys Forsyth and Jo Kirkwood.


This thesis is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International.

Creative Commons License