How to Choose a Culinary School in 2018 our best ideas and guide

...a difficult choice

You may be thinking now about how to choose a culinary school.  It's a tough decision, with many schools and locations to choose from.  Here are some of our suggestions to help you make your decision.

Attend a Recreational Class

One of the best ways is to attend a recreational class at a school you are considering if they have one. 

These classes go by various names: public class, recreational class, enrichment class etc.

They are open to the public and of short duration. 

Your job is to be an investigator and find out everything you can before you enroll in a full or part-time professional program. One of the best ways to do this is to take a short course that is open to the public.

You can discover how to choose a culinary school by:

  • Who the teachers are 
  • If the equipment is adequate 
  • What the philosophies are 
  • And so much more.

Try Out the Food at their Restaurant

culinary school restaurantSchool restaurant where students can practice their skills

Some schools have occasional dinners for the public just like a restaurant. You can try out the actual food the chef's are learning how to cook.  

Is there a restaurant that is part of the school?  Many have them.  Be sure to visit often.  

Attend any Events the School Has

By attending activities and programs at schools you are interested in, you can find out how to choose a culinary school.

You will meet other people--people who can tell you things about the school. Have they taken the professional course; if so, how was it. People who have been through the training or are currently in it will probably be glad to answer your questions honestly.

Know and Meet the Teachers

There are many ways to do this:

  • Taking public classes
  • By attending their information sessions

Getting to know the teachers through classes and activities will tell you if you are in agreement with what they are teaching and if they are sincerely interested in your development.

If not, you don't want to spend your time and money being taught philosophies you can't embrace. How good the teachers are and how passionate they are about cooking may be the one thing that makes you interested in that particular school.

Experienced teachers are probably the most important asset of a school. Try to find out the backgrounds of all teachers.

Make an Appointment with the School

Make an appointment with the school's administration and ask them how to choose a culinary school. They will have expert advice on how to get started. 

If they have scheduled Open House days this would be a great way to get your questions answered.

Where Will You Go to Culinary School

Sometimes you just want to choose a school that is close to your home, but getting to know a different area may broaden your ideas and teach you new things. 

If you don't like cooking with meat then a vegetarian school may be right for you.  Maybe you are just interested in making pastries and desserts.  Where can you find a school to teach these things.

Keep your mind open because you have just begun to consider this career and your ideas may evolve into some unexpected outcomes. 

Having more than one school to consider will give you some basis for comparison and broaden your perspectives.

Study the Curriculum

If you don't know what cuisines you prefer, choosing a school that teaches a variety of cuisines will help you decide.  Study the curriculum to see if they are teaching courses you are interested in.

Types of Programs

You will have to decide whether to choose:

  • Degree program - Learn not only cooking skills but broaden your general knowledge skills.  
  • Certificate program  A certificate program will get you on your path to being a chef faster, sometimes as little as six months if you can go full-time.

To sum up how to choose a culinary school:

  • Choose more than one school to consider, if possible.
  • Take some short-term classes at the schools you like
  • Taste the meals that are being prepared at the school
  • Get to know who the teachers are at the schools--their backgrounds and philosophies 
  • Make an appointment with the school and go visit 
  • Consider other areas of the country and other locations 
  • Ask questions of former students
  • Keep an open mind
  • Consider a school that teaches all cuisines and specialties
  • Decide if you want a degree or a certificate
  • Read about and visit if possible a variety of schools

How Much Will Culinary School Cost?

Of course, there is more to choosing a culinary school such as costs of the school.  Talk to the Financial Aid Advisor at schools to find out the costs and how you will pay for your education.  They will put together a package for your individual situation.  A school may be very appealing but ask yourself if you are willing to be responsible for the financial cost.

Another option is to start at a community college that doesn't pose as large a financial burden.  Ask if you can decide later if you want to go on to a 4-year school.  Some community colleges have specific programs for this.  (Seek out the school's Administrative and Financial Advisors for answers to your questions.  This site does not recommend or advise.)

These ideas will start you thinking about some of the decisions you will have to make.  Reach out to the sources mentioned in this article such as School Administrators, Financial Aid consultants and students at the schools.  

Choose wisely after studying what all the schools have to offer you. 

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This is an information only website. We do not give opinions or advice. Please consult with local culinary school experts for advice on how to choose a cooking school.