20 Reasons Why You Should Go to Culinary School

While not everyone wants to or can afford to go to culinary school, there are many reasons you should consider going if you can. Added to the outcome of attending culinary school, namely obtaining a recognised, professional culinary qualification, there are several reasons for going that can benefit you personally and professionally.

20 Reasons for Going to Culinary School

1. You train under a variety of qualified and experienced chefs

Good culinary schools employ hand-picked chef instructors with broad experience in the culinary world to enrich your learning experience as a culinary student. Under their guidance and mentorship, you develop basic cooking skills and gain the tips and best practices they have acquired.

As you are trained under a variety of chef instructors, and not just one, you are exposed to different personalities, cooking styles, techniques, and their preferred areas of specialisation, all of which you benefit from.

Furthermore, from amongst the professional chefs you meet at culinary school and during your industry training, you may form a special connection and find a chef who becomes your life-long mentor, aiding you as you build your culinary career.

2. You have an opportunity to refine your talent

Even if born with a natural passion and talent for cooking, every talent needs refining. Through an excellent culinary education, you gain the technical knowledge and skill to become a professional culinary artist, learning to prepare, cook, and present meals with finesse.

3. Your culinary education is geared to meet industry needs

An excellent culinary education includes all the essential elements to prepare you as a professional chef for entering the culinary world of work.

You gain knowledge and experience in the primary and advanced aspects of preparing, cooking, and presenting food, along with knowledge of personal and professional health, safety, and hygiene. In addition, food costing and managing a kitchen provide culinary students with comprehensive education for a successful culinary career.

What’s more, an excellent culinary school is constantly amending its training program as industry and food trends change to ensure that the training students receive remains relevant to the demands of the culinary industry.

4. You start your culinary career with work experience

An essential part of culinary education is that you gain hands-on industry experience by spending a part of your training program working in the kitchens of hotels or restaurants with which your culinary school is partnered, in addition to training in the kitchens of the culinary school.

Hence, by the time you start your career, you have work experience that can be included in your resume and put you at an advantage over someone with no formal training.

5. You get exposed to real-life chef work

To be a chef, you must love the culinary arts as it can be a demanding career. As a culinary student doing your industry training in a commercial kitchen, you get a solid, hands-on idea of what it is like working in a real-life work environment. In this set-up, you work alongside other chefs, experiencing first-hand the pressure of working in a busy kitchen. This prepares you for what to expect in the real world.

At the same time, being a culinary student eases you into the demands of this role; as you are a student and still learning, you are likely to get more support, instruction, help, and patience from the full-time staff within the kitchen.

6. You build vital networks for personal and career support

Networks are made at the culinary institution with chef lecturers, students, and chefs from your industry training. These connections are invaluable sources of reference for personal and professional support as you build your career.

7. You get to be a culinary student

No matter what career field you enter, it has its demands, and the world of a student is different from the world of work. So, before entering the culinary world of work as a full-time employee, with all this entails, it’s good to allow yourself time to be a student and enjoy its more relaxed life, along with your co-students having some fun and making connections.

Fellow students form an invaluable source of support to encourage, motivate and spur you on should you encounter some tough times during your training. It is also here where life-long friendships have formed that benefit you in a personal and career capacity.

Further, you may also be exposed to a wealth of knowledge and experience from students who have worked and only later attended culinary school to gain a recognised qualification. It may also be a lot harder to study later. Being a full-time student is a phase of life that may not come back later when you are older or have more responsibilities like supporting a family. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, although working full-time and studying part-time is more challenging. Hence, if you are afforded the opportunity, especially in the young-adulthood phase of your life, it may be good to take advantage of it.

8. You train at a measured pace in a learning-focused set-up

A culinary school is a focused learning environment. As such, the training pace considers that while having a passion for cooking, students may not have had broad exposure to the culinary world.

The pace at which students are exposed to the course components is structured, measured, and timed to allow for integrated learning, which involves learning the theory and then practically applying this knowledge in a structured and paced manner. This allows for more effective, stress-free learning as the environment is less demanding than the faster pace of on-the-job training, should one not go to culinary school.

Furthermore, culinary school’s learning environment suits more reserved, shy individuals as it may be easier to learn in an environment that is less demanding and quieter than a busy kitchen where there may be a lot of yelling and high stress in getting things done.

9. You start your work career with more confidence

As knowledge is power, your culinary education is invaluable as it gives you greater confidence when entering the job market.

This is especially so when a culinary course is structured to transition students from one phase to another. Many programs begin at the culinary school, teaching theory and exposing learners to practical training in lab kitchens.

The next phase is when learners are placed in commercial kitchens to complete the on-the-job part of training—following this, learners transition into the workplace.

This training model not only equips culinary students with the necessary culinary knowledge, skill and experience but leads to greater self-assuredness as they begin the next phase of their careers of finding work, fine-tuning their culinary skills and gaining experience.

10. You get groomed in the soft skills for industry training

As forewarned is forearmed, culinary instructors do much to prepare students on how best to conduct themselves during industry training.  

I remember our son relating his culinary school stories of how his chef instructors repeatedly told him to have a humble and willing-to-learn attitude when entering industry training rather than having a know-it-all attitude.

Another helpful attitude conveyed was that even though you are in a culinary school, you still know very little about cooking. Becoming an excellent chef is a lifelong journey of developing as a person and a culinary artist.   When entering industry training, you are a student but must pull your weight just like the full-time staff of the establishment. This means working long hours and working under pressure to deliver orders. Culinary instructors have many formal and informal talks with students, preparing them with a sound understanding of the physical, mental, and emotional demands of industry-based learning. This is linked to responding to these demands, like maintaining a good standing posture while working, getting enough rest on off-days, keeping physically fit, and so forth.

11. You get ongoing support during industry training

During the industry-learning period of about 4-6 months, a culinary school provides ongoing support for its learners at various food establishments. This can be done by visiting or calling the establishment and the learner to gauge how the culinary student is doing and offer support where needed. The culinary student can also contact their culinary school with any problems they are experiencing, and the culinary school will then assist the student.

12. You develop a good personal and professional work manner

Culinary school training helps students create meaningful personal and professional work habits like being on time, following orders, working in a team, taking pride in your work, and developing good personal and professional health and hygiene. Qualities like these are essential for a successful culinary career.

13. You enter your culinary career with a head start

Doing a culinary course that equips and qualifies you as a professional chef allows you to enter the culinary job market as a commis chef with prior knowledge and experience of cooking and the functioning of commercial kitchen.

The culinary career path is made of different levels, ranging from commis chef to executive chef. A commis chef is an entry-level chef; from here, you can work your way up to becoming an executive chef. Without a culinary education, you may find that this career path takes you much longer to achieve.

14. You have the backing of a reputable culinary institution

The good name of a respected and recognised culinary institution offering accredited qualifications is an advantage as you start your culinary career.

Good quality institutions produce good quality culinary students provided you do your part and work hard at your training. Thus it may be easier to find work and build your career with the backing of a good name in the culinary world.

Furthermore, good culinary schools partner with well-known and reputable hospitality and food industry names. Thus, you are further advantaged when your on-the-job experience includes working at a well-known food establishment.

15. You have the possibility of immediate job-placement

The industry-related training that culinary students are exposed to offers them the opportunity of employment immediately after culinary training. When students work hard, have a good attitude, and prove themselves in their on-the-job training, they create opportunities to be offered work opportunities within the same organisation.

16. You get exposed to culinary contests and food festivals

Many culinary schools participate in cooking competitions, food exhibitions, and festivals. This allows the students to gain experience putting their skills into practice and showcasing their work.

17. The option of gaining international chef qualifications

A great benefit of a culinary career is that it allows international work and travel, allowing you to cook for people in different countries while also getting to know them and their culture.

It’s easier to gain access to international work with the right qualifications. Good culinary schools offer the option of obtaining international qualifications through organisations like City and Guild or Highfield. In so doing, they prepare their culinary students for these exams through the specific content of their courses.

18. Doing culinary school shows loyalty to a culinary career

While not everyone can afford a culinary education, if you can go and have taken the time out to study, the hard work needed to meet the demands of your training and made the financial commitment required, you have shown that you are serious about pursuing a culinary career.

19. Culinary training opens options for alternative careers

Your ambition may be to pursue a career as a food stylist or a food writer rather than the traditional culinary career path of moving from a commis chef to an executive chef level. A professional qualification opens doors for alternative culinary careers, such as these. Without formal training, it is unlikely that you could become a chef instructor at a culinary school or a vocational high school.

20. You are more employable

Chances are that with the backing of a culinary qualification and your industry experience, you stand a greater chance of being employed with a qualification than without it. 

Our research amongst the chefs we know shows that many employers prefer someone with the backing of professional qualification, as this qualification means that you have fundamental knowledge and skill in cooking.

Furthermore, as you gain increasing experience in the culinary world, you become increasingly more eligible for culinary jobs, having both a culinary qualification and experience.

Finding a Good Culinary School

You may now be wondering about how you go about finding the best culinary school. When our son was sure, he wanted to go to culinary school, finding the right one was a big concern for him and us as parents.

What helped us was equipping ourselves with a solid knowledge of the culinary world, comparing the various schools in our area, including ones that were regarded as top schools. Doing this gave us a fair idea of what a good culinary school should be.

We also compared the different schools’ curriculum content, facilities offered, size of the group, quality of lectures, and cost of training. From here, we short-listed a few schools and visited these schools, and by discussing the pros and cons of each, we were able to arrive at a decision that suited our son, ourselves, and our pockets.

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