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Cooking Schools: 2 Types of Culinary Programs Cooking schools have expanded in recent years, both in popularity and in number. Many people are interested in learning more about the culinary arts, and so the demand for culinary education has grown. Not everyone is interested in pursuing a career in the field, though, which brings us to an important distinction: There are two basic types of culinary programs. Since many cooking schools offer both types, it is important to understand the difference between them, so that you can better determine what program is right for you. Many cooking schools and culinary programs are for career-minded individuals. Most notable right now is the large number of cooking schools that have cropped up recently. These schools' programs are focused on the people who are interested in the culinary arts not only for fun, but also with the idea of earning their living in the kitchen. These are people who are interested in making what they love into a long- term, rewarding career. Cooking schools generally market themselves based in part on their credentials: They have earned a reputation for turning out fine chefs, and they use that reputation to draw new students. The reputation is important because it helps recent graduates get their first job, when they have little or no practical experience for employers to go on, just their degree. Think of whom you would hire in this situation: a recent graduate from a culinary school you have never heard, or a recent graduate from a well-known and respected culinary institute. In addition to reputation, career cooking schools and programs typically offer degrees, instead of just certificates and individual classes. Their degree programs will obviously be geared toward a career, rather than a hobby, often with training in health and food safety, nutrition, and business management. There are a great many people who are interested in the culinary arts, but as a hobby rather than as a career. Many cooking schools cater to these individuals by offering individuals courses and less involved programs such as certificate programs. Culinary students who are interested in cooking as a hobby often view cooking classes as a social outlet. As a result, these individual courses are usually much more laid back than the usual culinary program. Although a serious hobbyist may like the idea of taking their classes from reputable cooking schools, the quality of the school is not as big of an issue in these programs; in fact, many community centers, churches, and similar organizations will frequently offer cooking classes in a laid- back community environment. When choosing between different cooking schools or programs, it is important to consider what you want to get out of the experience. Cooking programs geared toward career chefs usually offer accredited degree programs, expert instruction, state-of-the-art equipment, student services such as job placement, and quality reputations in the culinary industry. On the other hand, cooking classes or programs intended for hobbyists generally offer a more relaxed atmosphere, social interaction, a focus on fun recipes rather than practical recipes, and an emphasis on the experience rather than on qualifications you can put on your resume. Whichever type of program you decide is right for you, at least one of the many cooking schools out there is sure to meet your needs.
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