Just How Important Is A Culinary Education
When it comes to the issue of going to culinary school, debates tend to be heated and abundant. On one side, you have culinary professionals who swear by the time-honored tradition of jumping right on the line to learn alongside prep cooks, sous chefs, and chefs who have been working in the business for decades.
This has been a practice for the technical trade since the dawn of the culinary profession; in the Middle Ages, when books were rare and the ability to read was even rarer, everyone from cooks to surgeons learned with practical hands-on skill building.
This type of "apprenticeship" approach has been in operation for thousands of years, and is still used in many types of fields to great success even today.
On the other side of the argument, you have culinary professionals who believe that no real culinary arts career begins without formal training from a recognized and accredited culinary school. The belief is that cooking is no longer just about making food to eat; it's about combining food safety, technical skills, and artistry to create things that please the body, mind, and soul.
Culinary schools didn't become very popular until the early twentieth century, when French culinary training became the hallmark of any good chef, and students came from all over the world to learn the prized techniques.
While both sides of the debate make good points, the truth is that going to culinary school is a decision that can only be made by the student. In addition to considerations of the type of training you receive, there are also issues related to:
- Tuition costs
- Cost of books/supplies
- Student loan debt repayment
- Time commitment for training
- Degrees/Certificates/Diplomas awarded
- Job outlooks
- Program admission requirements
- Career growth potential
As a general rule, on-the-job culinary training is a more cost-effective solution for those who can't afford heavy tuition costs or the amount of time required to complete the degree. However, a culinary arts degree may be the ticket to higher paying jobs and greater opportunities, particularly at the hospitality and management level.
If you're interested in becoming a cook or chef and are asking, "Is culinary school right for me?" then you're already on the right path. By researching the costs, time commitments, and benefits of culinary school, you're more likely to choose a culinary training program that is right for you, and to do it with the full knowledge that your career will be stronger for it.
Continue exploring this blog and our other resources on culinary school to determine the perfect fit for your life and your future.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.