Like lawyers and doctors, top chefs train intensely at the finest schools to become the best in their field.
Here is a look at the top five cooking schools in the U.S. and Canada.#5: Liaison College (Ontario, Canada)Founded in 1996, Liaison College of Culinary Arts is the largest trainer of cooks and chefs in Ontario, Canada.Here, students can receive a Cook Basic Diploma, a Cook Advanced Diploma or a Personal Chef Diploma. They can also study Hospitality Administration and Red Seal Preparation.The Basic Cook Diploma program lasts for 15 weeks and provides hands-on experience with in-class theory, as well as training in classic culinary techniques. Classes are held Monday through Friday, in the morning or afternoon. Weekend and evening classes may also be available.Since all of the instructors are master chefs, the knowledge gained in these courses is second to none. Liaison College is a proud member of:
- Canadian Chef Educators Association
- Canadian Federation of Chefs and Cooks
- Canadian Restaurant
- Cuisine Canada
- Foodservices Association
- Women in Food Industry Management (WFIM).
The college also offers Career Action Plan Services (CAPS) to guide its graduates into launching their careers. The lifetime benefits of CAPS include
- career counseling
- course fee discounts
- course refresher privileges
- interview preparation and techniques
- job directory and job placement assistance
- job search technique
- membership in the Alumni Association
- resume preparation assistance.
#4: Sullivan University (Louisville, Ky.)
With seven different programs offered, ranging from a Professional Baker Diploma (nine months) to Bachelor”s Degrees in Hospitality Management (36 months), Sullivan University offers a head start in the fast-paced, competitive world of culinary arts.Sullivan”s Graduate Employment Services matches graduates with the right career for their abilities. They boast a 99 percent placement rate and offer financial assistance, including grants, loans and scholarships. Company reimbursement plans are also accepted.Students have described their instructors as mentors, coaches and even friends. The small class size seems to be a big hit, ensuring more one-on-one training for those who need it.Sullivan University facilities include:
- a bakery
- a cafeteria
- a catering service
- a demonstration lab
- five bake shops
- a garden
- a gourmet dining room
- more than 40 classrooms
- a student lounge and library
- seven computer labs
- 13 food production kitchens.
It also provides its students with a three-month program at L”Ecole, a fine dining restaurant that is open to the public. Apartment-style housing is also included.Sullivan has several certified culinary teachers. Its credentials include the American Culinary Federation and the American Dietetic Association, along with eleven other associations.#3: Johnson & Wales University (Providence, R.I.; North Miami, Fla.; Denver, Co.; Charlotte, N.C.)
Johnson & Wales University is more than just a cooking school. Its hands-on approach in real-life kitchens makes it different than the other top culinary schools. It prides itself on its professional educators and administrators, who offer feedback regularly as their students practice their techniques.Johnson & Wales University provides extensive culinary career education with a full university experience. Majors include two-year Associate Degrees in baking & pastry arts and culinary arts. The four-year Bachelor”s Degree includes baking & pastry arts and culinary arts, as well as culinary nutrition, food marketing, food service entrepreneurship and food service management.If cost is an issue, students can apply for scholarships, grants and loans. There are also many payment plans to choose from and applying is easy.#2: Texas Culinary Academy (Austin, Texas)
At Texas Culinary Academy”s Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, students will learn everything from basic cooking skills to butchering, purchasing and cost control.The Texas Culinary Academy offers Le Cordon Bleu degrees and certificate programs. It prides itself on an atmosphere of professionalism and mutual respect.Students can choose between:
- a culinary arts program that teaches classic cooking techniques, food preparation, nutrition and sanitation)
- the Patisserie & Baking program that prepares graduates for entry-level positions as pastry chefs in prominent restaurants or catering services.
Both programs encourage student creativity and individuality while helping students cultivate their own personal style.Anyone interested in culinary arts, whether high school graduate or working cook, can apply.Although the Texas Culinary Academy does not offer on-campus housing, it does assist in locating convenient housing in the Austin area. Financial aid and career placement assistance is available as well.#1: The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, N.Y.)
Described as “a rare, well-done education,” the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) offers a multifaceted education that ranges from basic techniques to management theories to international cuisines to interpersonal skills.Culinary Institute of America students will spend more than 1,300 hours in the kitchen, preparing these students for an 18-week externship in one of more than 1,600 CIA-approved establishments. In these externships, students learn to fine-tune their culinary skills.The Associate”s Degree programs last 21 months, excluding a paid externship between students” freshman and sophomore years.The Bachelor”s Degree programs run 38 months, including the paid externship between students” freshman and sophomore years, as well as a food and wine seminar in California after their junior years.The student-to-instructor ratio is 18:1, an ideal ratio for optimal learning conditions during the baking and hands-on cooking courses. Because the training is so involved, classes are full-time.The Culinary Institute of America offers a wide variety of scholarships (need- and merit-based), such as the Cream of the Crop and Alumni Referral. Approximately 92 percent of CIA students receive financial aid. Founded in 1946, CIA celebrated its 60th anniversary in May 2006, a stellar accomplishment for such a prestigious culinary college.Whether you”re a working chef, just starting out or looking for a career change, many cooking schools can help you along the way. A career in culinary arts can open doors you never thought possible. With the financial aid and scholarships available, the dream may be within your reach.The demand for professionally trained chefs has grown considerably in the last few years. If it continues to grow, chefs will be one of the top ten occupations in the nation.