The Food Design Institute at Otago Polytechnic (Dunedin, New Zealand) introduced a design-based culinary arts degree in 2011. This degree has been recognized as being best practice teaching in New Zealand, but despite this, few have adopted design as pedagogy in tertiary culinary arts education. This paper explores how and why, despite many cutting-edge chefs also using design in their practice, culinary arts education has resisted change. It discusses three key structures within culinary arts that create this inertia: 1) the persistence of master-apprentice pedagogy; 2) an entrenched kitchen hierarchy, and; 3) institutionalized culinary vocational education. It also highlights that, for much of the last 20 years, there has been a call for culinary arts (and hospitality) education to become more liberal and critical in its approach. The paper concludes by suggesting that design could be used as pedagogy to overcome the inertia and address these calls for change.