The best culinary schools teach not only techniques and ways of cooking but also the importance of culture and community involvement. They are a place where aspiring chefs find mentors and educators to support them as they embark on their career. It is not uncommon for these schools to be in cities with a high concentration of restaurant culture. The skill set taught by the chef instructors is directly relevant to the field the chef is going into, and not just the raw ingredients being thrown at them. Courses are generally for two years, though many programs allow for a longer apprenticeship. Most of these programs use the theory of traditional cooking and food preparation but mix in modern techniques that are applicable to today’s food markets.
If you are currently a student or currently working in a restaurant or preparing for one, consider getting your culinary arts degree from a school that offers a certificate program. These programs provide a foundation in kitchen operations and prepare students for positions as dishwashers, prep cooks and managers. A certificate program will generally prepare students for positions like dishwashing, bussers and kitchen managers. In many cases these employers will require you to have a certificate as well.
There are a number of other professional culinary programs that do not require any additional education beyond a high school diploma or the equivalent. Diploma programs provide two years of college course work in addition to the core courses required for a bachelor’s degree. The diploma program usually takes two years and combines all the core academic requirements into one. Many employers now require that students get their degrees from accredited schools and colleges. At the end of the two year program students typically go on to receive their associate degrees.
There are a number of different degree options available for chefs who already have a passion for food and want to further their education. Some of the more common Bachelor of Science and Associate of Arts degree options include: Business Management, Culinary Arts Management, and Culinary Technology. These degree options take some of the same business courses that are required for a bachelor’s degree, but substitute out many of the general business courses with specialized courses that train chefs in specific areas of the culinary arts. For example, students who complete an Associate of Arts in Kitchen Management will learn how to market and promote gourmet cuisine to customers in a restaurant environment.
Students who would rather go straight to the more highly ranked culinary arts programs can also obtain a Bachelors of Science in the field. These are often referred to as Associates in the Culinary Arts. Some of the more common programs offered at colleges in the Washington, D.C. area include: Diploma in Restaurant Management, Associate of Arts in Kitchen Management, and a Bachelor of Science in the Culinary Arts. These three degree programs offer students a great opportunity to gain experience in the industry while they continue to earn their Associates Degrees. They also usually have a shortened program and students finish in two years, allowing them to complete their degrees in a shorter period of time.
The world of fine dining is much larger than simply working in restaurants. Many chef schools offer internship programs that allow students to get first hand training on some of the world’s most popular dishes. Students who complete these two years of focused study will be ready to enter the world of cooking at one of the world’s most prestigious fine dining establishments. Graduates of the world renowned culinary schools will not only have the skills necessary to succeed in the culinary arts, but they will also have the ability to shape the future of fine cuisine.