Rouxbe’s Online Kitchens are Democratizing the Culinary World
Rouxbe provides online professional grade culinary training, accessible to all, with a strong focus on plant-based eating, wellness and sustainability. In seven short years Rouxbe has served over 530,000 students in over 180 countries. We explore the motivation and passions behind Rouxbe with Ken Rubin, Chief Culinary Officer. Ken is a world-renowned chef educator and food anthropologist with eighteen years of industry experience in some of the most prestigious culinary schools in the world. He oversees Rouxbe’s cooking course curriculum development and recruitment.
Parvati Magazine: You have said that food is culture. What does that mean to you and how does it direct your culinary work?
Ken Rubin: I have always been driven to understand why and how people eat the way they do. My own philosophy around food comes from both a deep respect for the power of food and a desire to foster a positive and ongoing relationship with cooking, eating and sharing meals. Food choices, cooking, and eating are all very personal and individual human expressions. Food can bring people together as families, friends and diverse communities—but can also set us apart and be a source of pain or negativity. Food can help us thrive or make us sick. What and how we eat is dynamic; it changes over time as we age, travel, and have new experiences. Learning to cook is a cornerstone to making the most of these human moments.
It’s important that our students develop a personal relationship to food that serves them and their goals—regardless of whether the goals are related to learning basic cooking techniques, building kitchen confidence or finding improved health through food. At Rouxbe, we try to empower and equip our students to chart their own course so they can have a lifelong appreciation for all that cooking entails. We all know it is more fun, and satisfying, to cook the foods we enjoy!
Parvati Magazine: You have been directing programs in culinary schools for over ten years. Why did you decide to shift your focus toward online learning through Rouxbe?
Ken Rubin: Online learning is convenient, cost-effective, and allows each student to learn at their own pace. The idea that access to culinary school can be available to anyone is very exciting. We wanted to democratize access to quality culinary instruction, knowing these skills are fundamental to being part of a vibrant community.
Rouxbe embraces the idea that everyone has their own ideal schedule. Trying to make a 6 p.m. class a few times a week is simply impossible for many, even for those who could afford the cost. Rouxbe helps students bridge the gap between the online and on-the-ground learning space by using our instructional technology to actually prepare real foods in their own kitchen – at their convenience.
Parvati Magazine: Since its launch in 2010, Rouxbe has developed programs to serve a diverse student body, from high-end hotel chefs to home cooks, entrepreneurs, high school students and medical professionals helping their patients learn to cook well and stay well. How is Rouxbe able to meet such a diverse range of needs?
Ken Rubin: At Rouxbe, we want cooking to be as normal as anything else we do every day. At our core, we are helping students develop a practice of cooking. We work primarily in training and e-learning as well as through structured and personalized courses and learning experiences. Rouxbe is feeding an ecosystem of knowledge and practices by offering instruction, education, and training in a wide variety of contexts. For example, Rouxbe operates in over one thousand hotels (using five languages), hundreds of senior living, healthcare, corporate and university dining establishments, in hundreds of high schools, and in the homes of many thousands of people who are compelled to improve their culinary skills.
Parvati Magazine: You have a strong commitment to teaching food sustainability. As global food supplies are threatened due to our unstable climate, what does MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, mean to you?
Ken Rubin: It is vital that we safeguard our planet as best we can against the future of long term climate change and the resulting increased volatility and unpredictability in our weather systems. The increased severity of natural disasters, such as floods and droughts, bring real challenges to the food system, making us rethink how resilient and prepared we are for a future where we will need to feed more people with fewer resources.
Ken Rubin is recognized worldwide for his expertise in education, food culture research, and health and wellness. Ken has held top-level management positions at well-respected culinary academies including Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America, Chefs.com, the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Portland and the Natural Epicurean Academy.