How to Choose a Cooking School
Cooking schools or culinary schools as they are also called are classic illustrations of the premise that if you want to join a trade, the best and only thing to do is to learn it from those who practice it. Before there were cooking schools, those aspiring to become chefs would work at restaurants and hotels as apprentices, toiling eighteen hours a day, mostly for little or no wages, learning from master chefs. Although this is no longer the standard practice today, many senior chefs do take on apprentices who arrive at their food service facilities as interns.
The Latter-day Scenario
For those interested in becoming a chef at a restaurant, hotel, golf club or a catering facility, cooking schools offer the best alternative to full-blown hospitality degrees from established universities where cooking is one of the focus areas-not the only focus area. As is the case with every category of educational institutions or institutions of higher learning, cooking schools provide students with a dazzling array of choices. Here are three factors to consider when selecting a cooking school for yourself.
Chef’s School in the Right Location
Although most cooking schools are self-contained and provide most if not all the learning facilities one may need to become a professional chef, cooking schools located in or near large cities tend to have a strategic advantage. Proximity to a large city, especially one that boasts a culinary tradition of its own like New Orleans, New York or San Francisco, allows you to build your very own network which can be useful when you enter the job market. Moreover, your cooking school is able to arrange site visits and project trips to area restaurants, hotels and resorts more frequently as the gamut of choices tends to be more widespread.
Cuisine Style and Teaching Philosophy
Cooking is both a science and an art. Many cooking schools will offer you more than one culinary choice in terms of the cooking degree they will offer you. However, there are culinary schools which specialize only in one culinary style and these are traditionally known to be superior. You should take this factor into consideration when narrowing your choices down to the right cooking school for you. If it is French cooking that interests you, look for a culinary school that specializes in French cooking. If you are planning to become an Italian chef, seek a reputable cooking school that specializes in Italian cuisine. Better still, consider pursuing your degree in its country of origin. If you pursued the culinary degree in Italy for instance, you wouldn’t learn just Italian cooking but more specifically Tuscany style cooking, Venetian cuisine or northern Italian cookery.
Conducting a Cost Benefit Analysis of your Proposed Cooking School Degree
Once you have short-listed the cooking schools that interest you, it is time to perform a cost benefit analysis. Divide the total tuition fee by the total number of contact hours you will be spending in a classroom and laboratory or learning kitchen environment to arrive at an approximate per-hour cost of instruction at the school. Although this is by no means the only measure of evaluation, using this figure as a benchmark is an excellent way for you to assess the value proposition.
There are scores of online resources you can use when researching the right culinary school for yourself. The extent of research you could will, to a great extend, determine the kind of culinary training you will receive. Therefore, take the time to explore possibilities using as many online resources as you can find and chances are that you will eventually find yourself in a culinary school that will well surpass your expectations.