The Great Lakes Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City was named among the 50 Best Culinary Schools in the US. In fact, the institute placed 11th on the list by Best Choice Schools.

“Rereading my business plan that I wrote when I first moved here from New York in 1992, I noted the great potential of the Grand Traverse region for being a major food and beverage hub,” says Fred Laughlin, director of the Great Lakes Culinary Institute (GLCI). “The rich agricultural traditions, the growing wine and beverage industries and the area’s notoriety as a destination resort all help to make this an ideal place for a culinary arts program.

“Along with a great facility and location, I believe that we do a great job with our students that goes far beyond their culinary training. The GLCI goes a long way in creating a family environment that is respectful of students and their needs. This creates a quality learning environment for our students by breaking down barriers to learning.”


Best Choice Schools looked at culinary schools across the United States. The criteria included schools that offer hands-on experience, internship/externship opportunities, student-operated restaurants, modern facilities and a solid reputation in the industry. All of the schools on the list are nationally accredited or accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

For Laughlin, the school’s educational philosophy was summed up in a comment made by a member of the ACF Accrediting Commission’s site visitation team.

“After interviewing a group of randomly selected students about their experience here at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute he stated that he wished he could bottle the students’ enthusiasm for the program and staff and take it back to his school in North Carolina,” Fred says. “Creating and maintaining a student-focused school is key to our success. I think I speak for all our staff when I say that the students are our number one priority.”

Great Lakes Culinary Institute

Each year, the GLCI hosts A Taste of Success. Students prepare a strolling dinner for guests, and all proceeds from the event benefit student scholarships. This year’s event will be held February 17, 2017.

“This is the single most important fundraiser for actual students of GLCI,” says Don Coe, chair of the annual Taste of Success event. “The need has never been greater for scholarship assistance for the students and for trained culinary staff for our local restaurant community. We are enjoying a surge in both the culinary arts, fine dining and visitation in this region but it all starts with the availability of a skilled workforce.”

Click here for more information about the event. All photos by Northwestern Michigan College.

Take a look at the world inside the Great Lakes Culinary Institute in this article featured in Traverse Magazine.

More Northern Michigan Food & Drink

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Photo(s) by Northwestern Michigan College