With so many institutions offering quality education, pursuing a career in culinary arts is now more viable than ever.
With this in mind, it is important to attend a culinary school that offers practical knowledge, hands-on experience and diversely skilled staff who can teach you the ins and outs of all aspects of the culinary arts. It is also important to factor in location, schedule flexibility and externships. That being said, below are some of the top culinary schools in the United States.
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
Named after world-renowned chef Auguste Escoffier, this culinary school offers both diploma and degree programs in baking and pastry arts, as well as culinary arts. This institution was originally based out of Boulder, Colorado but has now expanded to Austin, Texas; it also offers an online degree.
The online degree option allows anyone to obtain an education in the culinary arts from home, which may sound odd. However, the three-step learning model presented by the school is quite intuitive.
This mode of education is comprised of three aspects: learning, discussing and hands-on experience. The curriculum involves reading assigned texts, watching technical videos, attending virtual lectures and participating in discussion boards, and digitally documenting your progress for practical assignments. This institution is the only US-accredited institution that offers a 100 percent online degree or diploma. Online students also have access to externships.
Culinary Institute of America
The Culinary Institute of America was the first culinary college in the United States, opening its doors in 1946. This institution’s longevity in the culinary college scene is a testament to its excellent instructors, powerful alumni network and phenomenal internship program.
Its campuses stretch across three major cities in America, as well as a campus in Singapore. The Singapore campus is only available to individuals who have obtained a diploma from a Singapore polytechnic institution, but the New York, California and Texas campuses are open to anyone who wishes to apply.
All three campuses offer associate’s degree programs in both pastry arts and culinary arts, but those wishing to obtain a bachelor’s degree in either of these subjects must attend the New York campus. This institution also offers a wide range of other degrees that involve the culinary arts, such as hospitality management, culinary science and wine management. These degrees vary in availability from campus to campus, so make sure you apply to the campus that fits your food career desires.
This institute offers some online learning as well, but the courses are limited to a bachelor’s in food business leadership and a master’s program in food business. Benefits to veterans are also offered here as the Culinary Institute of America was originally founded as a school to prepare WWII veterans for careers in food. This school is dedicated to providing the best educational opportunities for veterans and their spouses. They even allow veterans to use their time in the military food service as transfer credits in the pursuit of their degree. These credits can only be used to replace the externship semester that is required when pursuing a degree at this school, but this allows veterans to obtain a degree in as short as 15 months.
San Diego Culinary Institute
The San Diego Culinary Institute is the youngest culinary school on this list, having existed for only 12 years. But don’t let this institution’s youth fool you; its curriculum and staff are some of the best nationwide.
It offers a diploma in culinary arts as well as pastry arts. The culinary arts curriculum is called the Advanced Professional Diploma in Cuisine Commis Culinary program and offers a primarily hands-on experience with some of the best culinary educators in the country. Students enrolled in this program prepare food every single day, rigorously mastering a plethora of cooking techniques instead of replicating select recipes from a book. There are three distinct parts to this curriculum: introductory lectures, which introduce students to concepts in flavor theory and professionalism; hands-on cooking experience; and an externship as a capstone.
The San Diego Culinary Institute prides itself on having cooking experience as the bedrock of the education it provides to its students, with lectured content supplementary to physical experience in the kitchen. The institute is a great fit for someone who values cooking experience above all else. While this school does teach things such as professionalism, sanitation and business management, the most intense and rigorous aspect of the curriculum is most definitely the hands-on learning.
Institute of Culinary Education
The Institute of Culinary Education is a world-renowned school that runs one of the largest programs in hands-on training and education in culinary arts. Founded in New York in 1975, the school started with the mission of teaching cooking techniques and flavor development at a time when most other institutions were merely teaching recipes. This dedication to fostering creativity and honing technical skills has resulted in the Institute of Culinary Education becoming one of the most-awarded and well-respected culinary institutions in America. Now featuring campuses in New York City and Los Angeles, the Institute of Culinary Education is located in two of the biggest food hubs in the United States.
This college offers courses in culinary arts, pastry arts and restaurant and hospitality management. Where the Institute of Culinary Education draws a distinction from other culinary colleges is its focus on introducing students to techniques and ingredients from around the globe, from Italian and French cuisine to the culinary arts of Thailand and India.
A few other attractive aspects of this school are its flexible class schedules, plant-based cooking curriculums and its courses on culinary business. The Institute of Culinary Education would be a great fit for someone who wants to be based in the food capital of America, as well as someone who has an interest in pursuing an education in a number of different cooking techniques.
Culinary schools are a great alternative to formal education from a typical university, especially for those who are creative but do not necessarily want to attend art school or pursue a degree in the arts. Cooking and pastry arts are practical skills that allow for tons of creative expression, a perfect middle-ground for those with creative inclinations who do not necessarily want a career in creating visual or musical art.
The culinary schools covered in this article are the best of their kind and will offer quality education and exceptional training to anyone who aspires to have a career in pastry and baking arts, culinary arts, hospitality management or even food science. Whether you are passionate about creating tasty baked treats, managing a farm-to-table restaurant, or cooking cuisine from around the world, one of these institutions will likely be a great fit for you.