The brainchild of Francisco Encalada, San Isidro Instituto Superior has quickly gained a reputation for turning out some of the best and most innovative chefs found anywhere, not just in Cuenca. While traveling throughout the United States and Europe, Francisco noticed that in many places top chefs were acknowledged as stars in their own right. Such was not the case in Ecuador and many other Latin countries where chefs received little recognition, prestige or formal training. He studied how and where many well known chefs were trained and decided Cuenca offered a perfect setting to create the Ecuadorian equivalent of such famous schools as Le Cordon Bleu in Paris or the Culinary Institute of America in New York.

Francisco is not a chef. His background is in economics and business administra-tion. He was, however, astute enough to recognize a need and develop a solution to meet that need. It took four years of paperwork before San Isidro Instituto Superior received full governmental approval to open its doors in 2009 as a culinary institute, the equivalent of a college for cooking.

Since San Isidro opened its doors, 104 students have graduated from the two and a half year program with a certificate as a technologist in gastronomical and culinary arts. Another 320 students are currently undertaking studies at the institute. San Isidro employs 22 teachers and brings in guest lecturers from the USA, France and Mexico to enhance the learning experience for students.

A separate corporation, San Isidro Bakery and Coffee, has outlets in the Millennium Plaza and Mall del Rio where students can serve an internship to gain experience working in a retail store. Pastries are prepared and baked in an offsite location separate from the school and stores. A third outlet is scheduled to open this month on the grounds of the San Isidro Instituto Superior campus on Avenida Solano.

Mike wrote an article on San Isidro which is the cover article for the 10th issue of CuencaExpat Magazine published May 2016. You can read more about the school in the magazine.


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