First in Baku, Culinary Arts Centre of Azerbaijan (CÀSÀ)

Earn a diploma in food preparation and culinary arts at the Culinary Arts Centre of Azerbaijan.

US-AZ cultural foundation logo
US-AZ Cultural Foundation logo.

When recently in Baku, Azerbaijan, I visited the new Deniz Mall, the largest shopping center in the Caucasus Region, opened to the public in June 2020. A seven-floor structure Waterfront Mall, it is one more architectural ace highlighting the modern look of Baku, Azerbaijan.

Built on land reclaimed from the Caspian Sea, Deniz Mall was repurposed from a 2007 congress center, keeping the same design, to a new redevelopment concept, designed by the famous English company Chapman Taylor. It visually resembles a lotus flower. The mall, a 120,000 sq meter site, is 70 meters in height, with two levels of underground parking, retail, entertainment, leisure and dining destination, a landmark seeking to be Azerbaijan’s premier entertainment venue. The building’s interior was planned to harmonize with the exterior design, ensuring a single homogenous concept for the center.

Deniz Mall
Deniz Mall

Deniz Mall has eight star-shaped wings with a ‘flame’ tower in the centerpiece building, inspired by Azerbaijan’s national emblem, is a family-oriented day out experience destination, including world class entertainment venues that serve a much-needed role for the city and the surrounding region.

There are 25 cafés and restaurants in Deniz Mall, including outdoor restaurant terraces and a sky bar, from which people can relax and look out at matchless views over the Caspian Sea.

Culinary Arts Centre of Azerbaijan - CÀSÀ - entrance - Photo: Nurit Greenger
CÀSÀ entrance – Photo: Nurit Greenger
CÀSÀ's entrance café. Photo: Nurit Greenger
CÀSÀ’s entrance café. Photo: Nurit Greenger


In that uniquely shaped building, among the many dining experiences is also the Culinary Arts Centre of Azerbaijan (CÀSÀ). Established in 2020, it is the first professional Culinary Center in Azerbaijan, an accredited tertiary education Institution, providing high quality educational programs.

CÀSÀ is the first and only culinary center in Azerbaijan and the CIS* countries, accredited by City & Guilds, London Institute, with CÀSÀ being its educational partner and also has recognition of quality culinary education of the World Chefs Societies.

*CIS, the Commonwealth of Independent States, formed following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, is a regional intergovernmental organization in Eastern Europe and Asia. It covers an area of 20,368,759 km2 (7,864,422 square miles) and has an estimated population of 239,796,010. The CIS encourages cooperation in economic, political and military affairs and has certain powers relating to the coordination of trade, finance, law-making, and security. It has also promoted cooperation on cross-border crime prevention.

CÀSÀ school facility. Photo: Nurit Greenger
CÀSÀ school facility. Photo: Nurit Greenger
CÀSÀ students being tested on preparing a dish. Photo: Nurit Greenger
CÀSÀ students being tested on preparing a dish. Photo: Nurit Greenger

A CÀSÀ graduate will receive International Culinary Diploma accredited by the London Institute City & Guilds, which gives students the opportunity to earn a world-famous UK diploma with a high level of teaching and professional qualification. Programs held at CÀSÀ Culinary Center are taught by experienced teachers from Europe, England and Asia.

CÀSÀ prides itself of having foreign chef lecturers and local professionals who have vast experience in teaching in famous culinary schools and universities such as Le Cordon Bleu and Ritz Escoffier, Paris, France, as well as work experience, they have accrued while working in famous restaurants and hotels around the world.

CÀSÀ offers a six-month diploma program; also, three-month certificate programs for both Culinary and Pastry.

In addition to the numerous certificate programs and diplomas in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts, CÀSÀ offers tailored programs for executive education, courses for professionals and enthusiasts of all levels who possess the competitive drive and aspire towards professionalism. Not to skip mentioning CÀSÀ’s wide range of events, activities, master classes and teambuilding for all age levels.

My Experience at CÀSÀ

While wandering, with curiosity, in the Deniz Mall, I entered CÀSÀ. As it happened to be, at CÀSÀ’s entrance I met Kelvin Chong, the Founder/Director and Nigar Kazimova, the Marketing Manager.

Kelvin Chong is an “Ecole Ritz Escoffier” graduate, a world-renowned executive chef, with over two decades comprehensive history in the culinary world, specializing in a wide array of cuisines. Chef Chong is an exceptional consultant and entrepreneur who perfected his skills in the culinary world, hospitality management and entrepreneurship services.

In 2020, Chef Chong turned his long-awaited dream into reality – launching a new and unique Culinary Arts School in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Nigar Kazimova possess several years of experience in marketing in different fields, including owning a business; she obtained education in Finland’s International business marketing faculty, spent several years abroad, and returned to Baku where she continues her career in the marketing field with CÀSÀ, where she implements her knowledge and skills to develop services offered by the Centre.

Friends told me that one can take a brief lesson while at CÀSÀ. And so, I asked if that was possible and with a positive reply, I took a class.

I was first guided by Luther Maitland, the Faculty Manager from Scotland, on a short introductory tour of the facility when I also saw students taking a test, preparing a certain dish.

Luther Maitland, holding a teaching degree and an assessor for City & Guilds colleges, worked as a Chef Lecturer in educational institutions such as a College of North West London, SCAFA and in other leading culinary schools in Dubai, UK and Pakistan.

Luther Maitland, CÀSÀ, Faculty Manager. Photo: Nurit Greenger
Luther Maitland, CÀSÀ, Faculty Manager. Photo: Nurit Greenger

Thereafter, I was given the appropriate cook’s garb and with the masterful guidance of Frederic Dalaine, the French Pastry Chef, I prepared, from scratch, the vanilla and chocolate custard filling for the French pastry called éclair.

Frederic Dalaine is a professional Pastry, ice cream and catering Chef Lecturer with an impressive teaching experience in the world’s leading culinary schools, such as Le Cordon Bleu. Frederic worked in numerous prestigious factories, restaurants and hotels to name two: Ghislaine Arabian’s 2 Star MICHELIN Restaurant and La Maison Cochet, in Paris.

The writer with CÀSÀ garb. Photo: Nurit Greenger
The writer with CÀSÀ garb. Photo: Nurit Greenger
The writer with CÀSÀ chef Frederic Dalaine. Photo: Nurit Greenger
The writer with CÀSÀ chef Frederic Dalaine. Photo: Nurit Greenger
The writer with CÀSÀ pastry chef Frederic Dalaine. Photo: Nurit Greenger
The writer with CÀSÀ pastry chef Frederic Dalaine. Photo: Nurit Greenger

The purpose of me taking the single class was to write a story about CÀSÀ. However, it ended up to be an exciting, professional culinary experience which I highly recommend for others to take.

Each time I visit Azerbaijan I see greatly noticeable progress in this young country. I also find myself having the urge to tell my readership exciting stories about Azerbaijan, a country that not too many in the world are familiar with.

This one is the story about CÀSÀ, first culinary school Azerbaijan should be proud to have.

To contact CÀSÀ: Nigar Kazimova, Marketing Manager

CÀSÀ Culinary Arts Center of Azerbaijan, 2nd floor, Deniz Mall

Mob: +994-50 261 3428 | Website: www.casa.az