She founded an world renowned culinary school, the French Culinary Institute (now known as the International Culinary Center), serves on the board of the James Beard Foundation, one of the most prestigious culinary foundations in the country, and still manages to teach her little girl how to make a vinaigrette. And through it all, Dorothy Hamilton has learned one important lesson. You must love what you do. So, she wrote a book about it.
Dorothy Hamilton: I returned to NYC during the recession of 1974. I was an English major in college and had just served in the Peace Corp in Thailand. I had no job skills or opportunities so I took the only job available to me—a job at my father’s trade school in NYC. I loved it. I loved working with the students. From there, I followed my passion for cooking and food after I visited culinary schools in Europe. I convinced my dad to create a culinary trade school in NYC and the FCI was born.
Inspired by the premier vocational schools in Europe she visited in the early 1980s, Dorothy Cann Hamilton founded The French Culinary Institute in 1984. Since then, the school has evolved from a small, well-respected French cooking school to a world-class educational facility where chef-instructors impart their craft to the next generation of elite chefs, food professionals, and cooking enthusiasts.
Jessica speaks with Dorothy Hamilton, founder of the French Culinary Institute (FCI), one of the country:’s leading centers for culinary education. FCI, now part of the International Culinary Center, offers total immersion courses to people looking to become professional chefs or just master chefs of their own kitchen. Dorothy explains how she became one of the pioneers of culinary education, from scratch.