An old 19th century convent located in the Madrid neighborhood of El Pardo will be the new headquarters of the Mom Culinary Institute, a haute cuisine training center that aims to revitalize this small tourist enclave located on the outskirts of the capital that every weekend It draws hundreds of people to its restaurants. The building, built between 1803 and 1810, was for more than 160 years the home of the Franciscan Conceptionist Mothers, who sold it in 2020 in the face of the increasingly dwindling number of residents, according to a neighborhood portal.
The acquirer was the British Country Hall Arts Foundation, who took over the property and its plot, which total more than one hectare, for about 3.5 million euros, according to their annual accounts. It has also committed another investment of 6.4 million for its reform and start-up, an amount that it shares with another musical training project in San Sebastián.
This entity is the patron of the Mom Culinary Institute haute cuisine training school, which opened its doors in 2021 in a small palace in the center of Madrid, in the Salamanca district. It was started by chef Paco Roncero, who despite conceiving it for two years, withdrew from it after finishing the first academic year, alleging “differences with the other partners”.
FP, university degrees and postgraduates
Now, the direction of the school is the responsibility of Laura Morcillo, lawyer and also founder of the project. According to her account in conversation with La Información, the El Pardo center will open its doors in September as a gastronomy school that will host intermediate and advanced professional training, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate university degrees. These will be dedicated to the areas of kitchen management, restaurant services, sommelier or pastry, among others.
Today they have about 150 students at their center in Serrano, but they hope to increase this number with a clear commitment to professional training, prioritized over university education. “It is the natural way to dedicate yourself to the hospitality industry, when you do a degree you dedicate yourself to management or management, but it is important that the focus is on gastronomy, tourism or events,” he points out.
The former cloistered convent will not only be a training space, but will also have a small residence with 23 individual rooms for students. The offer is complemented by a restaurant specializing in embers and wood-fired rice very focused on holding events and which allows students to complete their theoretical-practical training with day-to-day work.
The garden, the jewel in the crown
For the director, however, the jewel in the crown is the convent’s garden, in which fruit trees and vegetables have already been planted. “We are deeply rooted in the land, back to our origins, and the cloister was bought, above all, because it had an orchard. We bet on buildings that have history, that have something to say. In El Pardo, the first thing we did it was to look at the possibilities of space to play with the land, with agriculture…”, he explains.
In addition, it will be temporarily lost at the headquarters of the Madrid Culinary Campus, a private initiative of the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas and Vocento with which it shares goals and values. Sponsored by chef Ferrán Adriá, he seeks to replicate in the capital the formula of the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastián, financed with public funds. The plans for this new culinary campus involve having its own headquarters in the surroundings of the Chamartín station, according to what was revealed in March.
For its part, the Country Hall Arts Foundation is a UK charity dedicated to training in the arts, “particularly in the arts of theatre, dance, music, film and culinary arts”, according to the British Government Register of Charities.
The entity defends its role as a generator of arts and culture, and ensures a significant number of educational scholarships for training in its areas of interest. Morcillo reports that, despite being a private regulated vocational training center, these scholarships finance between 30% and 100% of the cost of the courses thanks to the sponsorship of different private brands that pay for the students’ studies.