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.