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Mission and History


The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute (CJFCI) at Nicholls State University is dedicated to the preservation and advancement of the rich culinary heritage of Louisiana.  It provides a focal point for the study of classical culinary arts, Louisiana’s culinary heritage and the discovery of regional and global perspectives. The Institute will establish and maintain world-class culinary instructional and research faculty and facilities. The Institute will encourage scholarly and proprietary culinary research and preserve our unique culture through the establishment of an archives and research center. The Institute will encourage and promote the understanding of history and diversity through culinary education to the academic community and the general public, both nationally and internationally.



The objectives of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute academic program are to provide:

  • An in-depth background and advanced instruction in:
    • traditional art and science of culinary preparation;
    • preparation of food in a safe, sanitary and nutritious manner;
    • principles of culinary operations, product preparation and service;
  • Opportunities for study, application and research in the areas of
    • culinary heritage, indigenous foods and traditional culinary preparations of Louisiana;
    • regional cuisines of the United States and the world;
    • culinary operations, culinary education and training;
    • product development; and
    • familiarization with the food service industry.



CJFCI is an academic college of Nicholls State University. Nestled deep in the heart of Cajun and Creole Country, Nicholls is located in Thibodaux, La., 50 miles southwest of New Orleans and 65 miles southeast of Baton Rouge. The 210-acre campus fronts scenic Bayou Lafourche and is located on land once part of historic Acadia Plantation.

Refer to the driving directions to campus and a map of campus if you are interested in touring our culinary facilities or speaking with a culinary representative in person.  Please note that on the campus map, building #33 will be the new home of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, scheduled to open in January, 2015.




Over bowls of gumbo at Lafitte’s Landing in Donaldsonville, La., the idea for the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute was born in a discussion between former Nicholls President Donald Ayo and Chef John Folse.  Both envisioned a way to preserve Louisiana culture and cuisine by teaching chefs, students and community members to master the art of Cajun and Creole cooking. Emphasis would be placed on the influences of Cajun-Creole cuisine: Native American, Spanish, French, African, German, English and Italian.

CJFCI began offering courses for college credit in 1995. The Institute accepted its inaugural academic class in January 1996, offering an associate of science degree. The Board of Regents authorized Nicholls to offer a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts in 1997, making it the first four-year culinary degree program at a U.S. public university.

Today, CJFCI has an enrollment of approximately 300  students and serves as one of the university’s areas of excellence.  This area is rich in cultural heritage and is known for its hospitality and fine cuisine. The unique cuisine attracts renowned international chefs to the Thibodaux campus to learn Southern cooking and culture each year.


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