Is Culinary School Really Worth It?

In the culinary world, there are few things more coveted than Michelin stars or a spot on the World’s 50 Best list. These awards are a status symbol, but more importantly, they indicate an establishment’s quality and consistency. Ambitious chefs and restaurants strive to win these prestigious accolades, and the best culinary schools teach their students the skills to do just that.

Many people dream of becoming a chef, but it takes more than just trying out new recipes in your own kitchen. Formal training is a must, and most people attend culinary school to gain the necessary skills. However, the cost of a culinary degree can be expensive, and pay in the first years after graduation is generally poor. So, is it really worth it? We asked several chefs to find out.

They weren’t all on the same page, but most said it is. Three out of four agreed that culinary school is worth it for career changers, and all but one said it is worth it if your end goal is to own your own restaurant. In addition to teaching the necessary cooking techniques, culinary schools also give their students valuable business and management education. These skills can help a restaurant thrive in this competitive, and sometimes brutal, industry.

Most agree that while the big names who tend to get the most attention at culinary awards can and do move the industry forward, comprehensive change is a result of much more diverse professionals. This year’s 50 Next List, for instance, features a wide range of individuals who are overhauling the food system on various levels: by offering smart farming software to farmers across Latin America (Mariana da Silva Vasconcelos); by establishing a food collective to spark conversation about India’s food systems (Anusha Murthy and Elizabeth Yorke); or by creating an edible insect farm to support local ecosystems (Joanna Slusarczyk and Cristian Gadau).

Those with a passion for cooking and an appetite for learning will always have an appreciation for fine cuisine. But it’s the chefs who continue to push boundaries and inspire that make culinary school worthwhile. Those who graduate with Michelin stars, James Beard Awards and spots on the World’s 50 Best lists have a deep understanding of what it takes to push culinary boundaries. This understanding can be a great asset to any aspiring chef or restaurateur.

The most important factor in finding the best culinary school is to know what you want to achieve and what your goals are. Placement International partners with Michelin Star chefs, James Beard Award winners and chefs whose restaurants have placed on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list. We can help you to make your culinary dream a reality.