In 1984, Dorothy Cann Hamilton started a small French cooking school in Manhattan. It was inspired by the premier vocational schools she’d visited in Europe, and intended to be the launching pad for a whole generation of America’s top food professionals. Twenty six years later, that unknown New York City cooking school is a world-class facility with 70,000 square feet of state-of-the-art cooking and educational facility, known as The French Culinary Institute.
A passionate entrepreneur, award-winning educator, and gastronomic visionary, Hamilton is one of the most influential forces shaping the American culinary landscape today. Housed along with The FCI is Hamilton’s more recent contribution to culinary education, The Italian Culinary Academy, which has the same rigorous education that guides the French curricula. Together these two schools form The International Culinary Center, and are the realization of Hamilton’s vision of a destination where the top talent in every culinary discipline can visit to hone, discuss, and teach their craft to the next generation of elite food professionals and enthusiasts.
In 2007, Hamilton had the opportunity to put The International Culinary Center and its curricula to the test when she consulted with Failte Ireland, Ireland’s National Tourism Development Authority. She refined their two-year program into a nine-month hands-on education curriculum to help with island nation’s increasing attrition of trained chefs. With the overall goal of increasing the retention of chefs in Ireland, Hamilton’s intensive learning technique helped Failte Ireland to promote the Irish hospitality industry.
Hamilton has earned numerous awards, including a Silver Spoon award from Food Arts Magazine; the 2006 and 2010 IACP Award of Excellence for Vocational Cooking School; Chevalier du Mérite Agricole from the French government; a knighting by the Association Internationale de Maîtres Conseil dans la Gastronomie Française; and the Outstanding American Educator award from Madrid Fusion.
In 2001, Hamilton received the prestigious Ordre National du Mérite from the French government, a designation second only to the legendary Legion of Honor. She was most recently inducted into the Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America by the James Beard Foundation.
Hamilton was also the creator and host of “Chef’s Story,” a 26-part television series, which debuted on PBS in April 2007, and the author of the companion book, Chef’s Story. Her book on culinary careers, Love What You Do: Building a Career in the Culinary Industry, was published in the fall of 2009.