What Should You Look for in a Culinary School?, Part 2

Oct 21, 2013

What should you look for in a culinary school?, Part 2

So you have a passion for food and want a career that lets you create it for others. You need to select the culinary school that's the best fit for you.

In a previous article we outlined the first three steps in this important process. Now it's time to narrow the field.

After speaking with a school representative and discovering which schools fit most of your criteria, eliminate the ones that don't.

Visit your chosen culinary schools

According to The Reluctant Gourmet, the next step is one of the most important in your selection process: Make an in-person visit to your chosen schools. It's crucial that you see the classrooms and kitchens where you will spend so much time (and money). Talk to instructors and students to make sure the school is the right fit for you.

If possible, take a peek in the kitchens as classes are in session. Are the students busy and engaged? Is their coursework a healthy mix of classes and hands-on activities?

What else to look for

Chef Jason Lafferty, Program Director of Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College in Mobile, believes "more is more" when it comes to your culinary education.

"I believe personally at Culinard we touch more food than many other culinary school in the US," he says. "We do more recipes and more techniques daily. There is no day when you're not doing three, four, five recipes in a day, getting to see multiple techniques and using many types of product. Our students are more engaged and learn more techniques with food than anywhere else. It's a fast-paced, hands-on program that gives you the necessary training you need to get out into the workforce."

While visiting your schools of choice, take note of the state of equipment and ask what sort of technology is in use. Today's modern culinary schools offer a variety of techniques and curriculum to help students get the most of their education.

For example, the Culinard curriculum uses the online tool My Culinary Lab  in addition to textbooks. This allows students to not just read about a certain technique in a book, but see it in practice, understand it--and even practice at home.

"Students learn differently today," says Chef Antony Osborne, Academic Dean of Culinard. "It is our responsibility as educators to change the paradigm. Our students are brought up in an era of information technology and we must keep students engaged."

Taking the plunge

Finally, apply for your top choice or choices. If you have questions, call your admissions representative and ask. A good culinary school will be able to answer your questions quickly and effectively.

Once you are accepted, let your chosen school know that you'll be attending and ask what is needed for enrollment. Start your first day of class knowing you made the best-informed decision possible. Happy cooking!

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