What Chef Uniform, Knife and Books Do I Need To Start Culinary School?
In addition to culinary school costs like tuition and room and board, most students have to come equipped with a few key kitchen essentials when they walk through the doors for the first time. Like any college-level or vocational training, culinary school comes with its own list of requirements. In some cases, the school will provide these materials; in others, you will be given a list of items and textbooks you’ll need to purchase.
The materials you work on at school might be provided by the school, but you’ll still want cooking tools for use at home. The staples include a saucepan, saute pan, and stockpot. Avoid buying them in sets, which tend to be lower in quality. It’s perfectly acceptable to build a mismatched set as you go.
Your knife set will most likely go with you wherever you are. For chefs, they come in cutlery cases that allow you to carry your knives to and from school. You can expect them to include things like a chef knife, boning knife, paring knife, and cleaver, among others.
Non-slip, rubber-soled shoes (think Crocs) are a favorite among chefs. Because chefs are often on their feet for eight or more hours a day, working in a fast-paced and dangerous setting where spills happen every few minutes, it’s important to have shoes that can stand up to the task. This is one area where you don’t want to skimp.
Cooking uniforms tend to be comfortable, durable, and easily washed. Usually black or white double-breasted jackets made of durable and fire-resistant cotton, these may come with a school logo and be required through the school itself.
Although you’ll probably do a lot more hands-on training than book learning, you will still find that some reading materials are required. As is the case with uniforms, these may need to be purchased through the school.
Student materials have a tendency to be well-used and well-worn by the time you graduate, so put some time and effort into choosing the right ones for you. You can buy inexpensive materials now and expect to replace them upon graduation, or you can splurge for higher-level materials now in hopes that they will carry you through culinary school and into your first years as a professional cook or chef.
Either way, you can expect to only be as good as the tools you work with, so be sure and research before you buy.
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.