In NECI's early daysNECI History and Facilities

The New England Culinary Institute (NECI) was founded on June 15, 1980 by Fran Voigt and John Dranow. Chef Michel LeBorgne, now Maître Cuisinier de France and Professor Emeritus, conducted the first class of seven students. As of 2017, we have over 5,000 alumni throughout the world.

While we started in the humble kitchens of the Vermont Department of Employment and Training, we quickly grew to expand to a second “sister” campus in 1989. In an exciting partnership, we joined the brand new, full-service luxury resort at the Inn at Essex. In 1992, warm weather caused ice jams on the Winooski River that flooded most of downtown Montpelier. NECI's original restaurants, Tubbs and the Elm Street Café, were damaged and then replaced by the Main Street Grill and the Chef's Table. The campus was re-consolidated in Montpelier in 2009, bringing all students, staff, and faculty back to our roots in one location. 2012 was a big year for NECI: it launched an online BA in Culinary Arts and hired native French Chef, Jean-Louis Gerin, to serve as Campus Executive Chef. He is also a Mâitre Cuisinier de France, James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Northeast 2006, and Food Network's Chopped Champion 2012.

Since those early days, we have grown our educational programs from one to nine, allowing us to serve students at many levels in their educational journey, and expanded our focus to add Baking & Pastry as well as Food & Beverage Business Management.

  • The Bachelor's Degree in Food and Beverage Management opened to students in 1994 to answer a demand for multifaceted food service professionals with skills in management, entrepreneurship, critical and creative thinking, and problem solving.
  • In 1995, the Certificate Program in Basic Cooking debuted to meet the need for basic skills and to provide trained cooks for the rapidly developing contract food service component of the industry.
  • In 2002 the Associate's Degree in Food and Beverage Management was developed. This program was created to help train students for the demands of front-of-the-house careers.
  • The Baking and Pastry program in 2004 expanded to include an Associate of Occupational Studies in Baking and Pastry Arts along with a Certificate in Baking and a Certificate in Pastry to meet employer needs in this highly specialized and sought-after area.
  • In 2006 two new bachelor’s degrees were added: an online BA Program in Hospitality and Restaurant Management (the name was later changed to Food and Beverage Business Management) and a residential BA in Culinary Arts. The addition of the online program allowed those with prior associate degrees or full-time careers to continue their education without having to relocate to Vermont.
  • The BA in Culinary Arts was established in response to the expanding breadth of opportunities in the food and beverage industry requiring more advanced culinary skills. Additionally, this program acknowledged the new reality that chefs increasingly need a deeper and more global skill set as food operations consolidate more and more management duties into the chef’s responsibilities.
  • A Certificate in Baking and Pastry was launched in 2013 and a year later a Bachelor of Arts in Baking and Pastry Arts was created to acknowledge the growing complexity and diversity in employment opportunities for those specializing in baking or pastry. Students have the opportunity to attain their bachelor’s degree in any of the three programs whether online or on ground.
  • In February 2016, Dr. Milan Milasinovic was invited to create and execute NECI's turnaround strategies. Later that year he assumed the presidency of NECI. New vision and new mission are created by focusing on converging culinary arts and business.
  • In 2017, NECI merges with VMCAD College to leverage the synergies in general business education, online learning and supporting processes. Online students are set on a path to share courses. New Programs were created and old curriculums revamped making both colleges stronger.

NECI's curriculum is based on "learning by doing," immersing students in real kitchen situations and maintaining a small teacher/chef-to-student ratio in comparison to other American culinary schools. This approach differentiates NECI from other schools and will remain a foundational tenet as NECI continues to attract students to become leading chefs, bakers, and managers in exclusive kitchens and restaurants around the world.


The Campus

New England Culinary Institute’s campus is located in the Vermont state capital of Montpelier. A quintessential New England town of about eight thousand people, Montpelier has many charming shops, restaurants, and parks. NECI housing and educational facilities are spread throughout the town. NECI educational facilities include classrooms, library, and kitchen laboratories, as well as restaurants serving the public—including a farm-to-table themed restaurant, a bakeshop, two cafeterias, and banquet and catering facilities.

Program administration offices, classrooms, a library, wireless computer access, and learning labs are all located within walking distance of one another. Student Support Services, including Learning Services, Student Services, Career Services, and Academic Advising, are centrally located at 7 School Street.

Student housing is available in the residence halls located at the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) campus or within the Montpelier community. The student cafeteria is also located at VCFA. Wireless Internet services are provided in all student housing and classroom buildings.  

Many students find it convenient to bring their cars to Montpelier. However, NECI does not have designated student parking. There are various locations in Montpelier for metered on-street parking and non-metered on-street parking on a first-come availability basis. It may be difficult to locate adequate parking, especially during the winter. Students are expected to abide by the Montpelier community parking regulations.


NECI Restaurants and Food Services

NECI on Main
118 Main Street
Montpelier, Vermont

NECI on Main features local and regional cuisine with a farm-to-table theme and a contemporary dining experience. Additionally, the restaurant lounge menu offers a small-plate concept.

The restaurant kitchen is equipped with range/ovens, a griddle, salamander, standard gas grill and charcoal grill, standard deep fryer and an induction deep fryer, convection oven, combi-steamer, stockpot range, refrigerated prep tables, sinks, stainless worktables, refrigerated pastry case, refrigerated lettuce dispensers, walk-in refrigeration, dish and pot washing area, and other equipment.

La Brioche Bakery & Café
89 Main Street
Montpelier, Vermont

La Brioche is a European-style café specializing in baked goods, pastries, and artisan breads.

The bakeshop has a classroom, and three kitchen areas equipped with mixers of various sizes, worktables, convection and deck ovens, walk-in and reach-in refrigerators, a two-door proofer, walk-in freezers, sinks, a sheeter, dough divider, and other equipment needed for the production of baked goods described in the curriculum.

Dewey Café at Vermont College of Fine Arts
1 West Street
Montpelier, Vermont

Dewey Café is a classic college dining hall service offered to VCFA students, NECI students, and the public. This large kitchen is designed to handle two production classes and is equipped with ranges, a clamshell broiler, deep fryers, a salamander, griddle, a double-stacked steamer, food warmer, bain marie wells, work counters, steam kettle, tilt skillet, reach-in refrigerators, meat slicer, convection ovens, pot wash area, refrigeration prep counter, and other production and instructional equipment.

NECI’s meat fabrication kitchen is also located at VCFA. This Vermont State Inspected production facility is equipped with grinding, mixing and sausage-stuffing machines, a cryovac machine, a digital label-printing scale, hot and cold smoke cabinets, and a cook and hold oven.

The National Life Cafeteria
National Life Drive
Montpelier, Vermont

An open servery operation meeting the breakfast and lunch needs of employees of the financial services company and the State of Vermont.

Serving over 1000 customers a day between breakfast and lunch, this kitchen and servery is equipped with walk-in and reach-in refrigeration, steam jacketed kettles, tilting skillet, combi-steamers, convection ovens, deck ovens, ranges, fryolators, broiler, mixers, slicers, hot line, and salad bar.