Detroit Culinary Institute


With population decline, emergence of vacant lots, and high unemployment, Detroit is reinventing itself. The Detroit Culinary Institute is the heart of a city rising from the ashes, driven by the promise of urban agricultural production. The Institute trains 28 (sometimes 29) aspiring chefs, under the leadership of three master teachers, the Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick Maker, who live in apartments on the roof of the building. Ingredients mostly come from the urban farms that have sprung up around the city on formerly blighted lots that went vacant in the latter part of the 20th century. More exotic fruits and vegetables are produced within the Instituteís greenhouses and salt and fresh water pools. Guests are also welcome to enjoy fresh pastries and coffee in the Woodward Avenue cafe (adjacent the McDonald’s), tapas and wine in the grotto enoteca, beer and a soft pretzel in the corner spritz, or a rotating menu of items cooked by the students in the feasting hall or corner rooftop terrace.

As Albert Kahn’s industrial architecture came to define Detroit’s manufacturing identity, the Detroit Culinary Institute aspires to be the vanguard of Detroit’s urban farming movement. Immediately upon entering, one is overcome by the sensory by-products of food production and preparation: the humidity of the tropical greenhouses, the saltiness of the fish runs, the smoke and steam of sizzling onions and garlic, the clangs of steel pans being washed.