by Carla Occaso
MONTPELIER — Culinary arts, business administration and fashion merchandising are all part of a “new chapter in the story of New England Culinary Institute,” according to a press release issued by the institute May 8. But where will they go? What will they do? It remains to be seen.
New England Culinary Arts President Milan Milasinovic — through a spokesman — announced the merger of the Institute and Virginia Marti College of Art and Design located in Cleveland, Ohio to the Vermont press May 8. Spokesman Phil Stevens told The Bridge by telephone they have no plans to leave Montpelier. “From the outside, NECI won’t be any different. Our programs are the same,” Stevens said. “We’re both art schools. Making pastry is art.” And with the merger, culinary students will also be able to take the classes Virginia Marti College of Art and Design offers, such as graphic arts and business administration, Stevens said.
Still, though no plans have been solidified, Stevens said the organization is looking to find a place where they can house the entire college under one roof.
However, an announcement on the Virginia Marti website states, “Degree-granting Culinary Institute coming to Lakewood … President Dr. Milan Milasinovic brings New England Culinary Institute (NECI) to Cleveland’s west side,” according to vmcad.edu on June 12. It goes on, “Dr. Milasinovic is implementing a strategic growth plan for VMCAD that includes bringing the first degree-granting culinary institute to the west side of Cleveland. New England Culinary Institute (NECI) in Montpelier, Vermont has been a leader in culinary education for over three decades. VMCAD College recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and is known for programs focused on the convergence of design & business. The VMCAD/NECI merger is anticipated to be finalized this month (June 2017) … A restaurant is planned for the NECI Lakewood campus.”
Calls to Virginia Marti/Milan Milasinovic spokeswoman Katherine Miracle were not returned. Virginia Marti College of Art and Design, located at 11724 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio, is about 614 miles from Montpelier.
Milasinovic previously served as vice president for academic affairs at LIM College in New York City. LIM stands for Laboratory Institute of Merchandising. He also founded the graduate business school and continuing education there. Before that he was the dean of graduate studies at the European School of Economics based in London. He has a “successful record of getting business schools accredited.”
According to a June 7, 2015 article in Crain’s Cleveland Business, “Virginia Marti Veith, (then) 86, has sold a minority stake of the school (VMCAD) she has operated since 1966 to Milan Milasinovic, an experienced fashion industry executive.” The article, written by Timothy Magaw, goes on to say that Milasinovic had planned to open satellite offices in Milan, Paris and London.
Though not Paris Paris, Montpelier has been called “The Paris of Vermont,” as recently as April 2017 in a Tripadvisor review of Bohemian Bakery, stating, “Understated decor and lighting completes the experience. Feels and tastes like Paris!”
Will Montpelier soon bid New England Culinary Institute, “Adieu.?”