Pursuing a culinary career is a dream for many people who enjoy working with food. While there are truly talented cooks who have achieved fame and success without ever attending the best culinary colleges, other experienced chefs will tell you that the real challenges begin long before you reach a degree or diploma. The skills, techniques, and talent that you will need to succeed are learned through years of practical experience. These “black box” skills are what make up the heart and soul of great cooking but they can only be acquired through hours of practicing and study.
One of the best places to find these black box skills is through an education at a culinary arts academy. Established culinary colleges and universities are springing up all over the United States and around the world. Many of these programs offer both classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Some of the more traditional culinary arts academies may require a visit or application fee, while a less formal college may not.
Culinary colleges and universities around the country offer many different types of programs to suit the needs of their students. Programs range from beginner classes and short course periods to full time associate degrees and on-the-job apprenticeships. For chef-level positions, a traditional culinary arts academy often offers the best training, providing students with an expert palette of tricks and trade secrets that has helped create some of the best dishes in the world.
Le Cordon Bleu is another well known and respected culinary academy that also gives its students the chance to gain experience while learning about new techniques. This prestigious institution, located in New England, offers a wide variety of student and alumni programs. Students who have attended the program’s on-campus or online program have gone on to become some of the best chefs in the world, including several that are winners of top chef awards. Le Cordon Bleu’s chefs often go on to open their own restaurants, winemakers, or boutique hotels. In recent years, Le Cordon Bleu has branched out into catering services.
In New England, some of the best culinary colleges and universities also have campuses in other parts of the country, giving students the chance to travel and study abroad. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, students can choose from over 60 different campuses in New England. Some of these sites include the campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is home to one of the famous Brandeis University schools of medicine. Other colleges and universities in New England to offer programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including at Harvard University and at Yale University. In addition, Le Cordon Bleu facilities are spread across the state of Massachusetts, as well as New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Washington.
For those interested in more professional training, or perhaps an advanced degree, a four-year college or university that offers an Academy is the best choice. The most common types of Academy programs include executive MBA programs, master’s degrees, and PhD programs. Many of these programs will require a student to have completed an associate degree before they can enroll in an Academy. The most common course sequences in these programs include hospitality and restaurant management, baking, chemistry, business management, computer science, public administration, finance, and biology.