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Entering a Culinary Arts School

Aug 18, 2007
Your kitchen career starts here.

They say cooking is the first art. Before mankind learned to speak, draw, or write, he learned to prepare a meal. And this art is passed down to your generation, in the form of a wide and diverse field of culinary specialties to choose from. A cooking career is limitless; it can take you anywhere, and you can explore it all of your life and never find the end of it.

Applying with a culinary arts program is basically no different than applying to any other program or course at a college or a university. As a standard practice, there is a process that you need to follow and you may need to meet with a career counselor in the department to see which program is right for you, as there are plenty of options available.

Considerations with regards to the school's reputation, location, tuition, and financial aid programs available are essential in choosing what is best for you. You will be pleased to know that as a general rule, culinary arts courses go for a more reasonable fee than what you would expect for, say, a computer scientist. But the more elite schools tend to be pricey, too. Particularly if they can boast a celebrity chef on Food Network as one of their alumni.

Some small starting places are researching online via their website, or simply request their catalog by mail. These programs will range from general cooking and food safety to highly specialized positions like for pastry chefs.

Many who attend culinary arts college are aiming to become professional chefs or work in the food industry in some capacity, but don't be surprised to find several students also attend culinary arts colleges to improve their own home cooking. The "cooking renaissance" has produced a growing population of culinary arts colleges and cooking schools in the country, and plenty of interest amongst the population in attending them.

Many varieties of people and companies, even from local restaurants and supermarkets, are setting up cooking classes so that anyone can improve their kitchen crafts. For the aspiring career chef, culinary arts colleges offer the greatest opportunity to landing a great career. Some go for prestige, such as a cruise ship chef or banquet chef to the celebrities, while others are happier with a small, secure position in an institution or restaurant.

Due to this increased popularity, there are now over five hundred programs in the United States that offer top educational courses in the field of culinary arts. Colleges, universities, and private programs all offer these courses.

There will be several things to consider when choosing a culinary arts college. You should consider what avenue you want your career to follow after you have taken the course, such as restaurant managerial work or owning your own private catering company. After deciding on this, you can easily narrow your search down for the right program quite dramatically, since there are many courses set off for those specific fields.

You will need to determine what is important in a college for you. Lengths of the program may be a consideration, and also what qualifications you will need in order to be accepted. Course fees need to be heavily considered, and if you are on a tight budget you will need to find out about student or college financing as well.

This is also a good time to ask yourself if you have the right kind of skills to stick with a culinary career in the long term. A chef will need many attributes to make it. You will need physical stamina, because this is a very demanding job with the need to move fast when the time counts. Cleanliness is one of those things that goes without saying, but only the fastidiously neat need apply. The demanding maneuvers of prepping food require good fine motor dexterity.

Because the repetitiousness of much of the chef career may lead to burn-out, you need to have real enthusiasm for it. In a contrast, you need a strong tendency towards creativity, while also being conformist enough that you have the ability to follow rules and standards of the industry. Last, and this is something that's often overlooked, but math skills are also important in this job. We can't have you standing over a stove with a calculator converting milliliters to teaspoonfuls, now, can we?
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