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Six Things to Look For in Great Culinary Cooking Schools

Aug 17, 2007
Culinary cooking schools are a wonderful career option if you've always loved good food and are interested in cooking or running a restaurant. Today's culinary schools not only teach you how to prepare complex dishes, but how to choose the proper ingredients with an eye for quality products and properly managing a professional kitchen. But with culinary cooking schools springing up across the country, you will need to find one that will give you the best possible education.

There are several things to consider that will ensure you are getting not only a superior education, but one that will open doors for you when you enter the restaurant and hospitality world as a chef.

Accreditation by the American Culinary Federation
The American Culinary Federation is an organization of professional chefs that monitors and reviews restaurants, catering services and culinary cooking schools and provides a variety of services to its members. Accreditation by this group means the school has met certain strict standards.

The Quality of the Kitchens
Whenever possible visit the school you are considering and ask for a tour of the kitchens. There should be at least two fully equipped professional kitchens so that you can learn to cook a variety of ways (cooking over electric heat and gas heat can be quite different). Be sure to ask questions about the various types of appliances and features that are available for student use.

Class Size is Crucial
Smaller classes at culinary cooking schools mean more hands-on training during the early stages of your education. With fewer students, the instructors will be able to give you more individualized attention. You will also have more opportunities to try advanced techniques and get in crucial hours of experience.

Variety of the Curriculum
If you want to be sure you are getting the broadest range of training, take a look at the courses you will be taking. There should be some focus on the core culinary arts as well as separate units on the confectionary, baking and pastry arts. Many of the best culinary cooking schools will offer you a choice of a degree in culinary arts, management or a one that focuses specifically on being a pastry chef. There should also be a complete class in any curriculum that focuses on understanding and appreciating wines and liquors, as these are a finishing touch to a truly gourmet meal and knowing what wines pair well with the foods you prepare is essential.

Internships or Affiliated Restaurants
There is nothing that will prepare you for the real world of food preparation in a restaurant atmosphere like experience. If there is some type of internship program in place you will have the opportunity to try out your newly learned skills while pursuing your education. Some schools will provide this opportunity by having their own restaurant, run by the staff and students, which is a part of or affiliated with the culinary school.

Job Placement Assistance
The best culinary cooking schools care about their students even after they have completed their coursework and prepare to enter the hospitality or restaurant world. Ask about whether the school provides assistance with preparing your resume, interviewing techniques and coordinating job interviews and networking opportunities.

If you find schools that meet the six criteria outlined above, you can assume that they are exceptional institutions that will prepare you for your future as a chef or in food services management. From there, your final selection should be based on your own gut feeling. No one except you can say which of these culinary cooking schools is best for you.
About the Author
Andy West is a freelance writer for The Culinary Institute of Virginia College. Culinard offers two outstanding culinary programs. For information on one of the most prestigious culinary cooking schools, please visit http://www.culinard.com .
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