Culinary School: Why Is it Important and Find Out How it Can Prepare You for a Career

by Olivia Tacelli
CulinaryEd Columnist
February 8, 2011

It's beneficial to attend culinary school.Debating the value of culinary school isn't new. Many who've worked their way from dishwashers and prep cooks to head chefs and restaurant owners, believe that attending a culinary degree program is a waste of time and money. They think: why spend money to learn to cook when you can get a paycheck instead?

If you want the real deal, talk to culinary school graduates. Here's why they believe getting a culinary arts degree is a great way to get the career you want.

Culinary School: A Full-Service Education

You can't learn everything at one restaurant. While a full-service establishment can provide great experience, culinary degree programs are designed to teach you all the food preparation techniques you need, as well as vital training in areas you may not pick up in a restaurant, like management, business strategies, cost control, and product knowledge.

Graduates also have the advantage of many networking connections within the culinary world, not just from one or two restaurants. Through externships, job fairs, career counseling, instructors and fellow classmates, students can leave school with a host of employment opportunities.

Some culinary arts programs offer specific training that could be impossible to get simply by working. For example, if you want to develop food products for a major company, you likely need a degree in food science to find employment.

The way to become a great and hire-able chef is to be a culinary genius, or spend time doing it. Culinary schools offer lots of structured time to practice cooking, along with the confidence that comes with perfecting skills.

Surrounded By Aspiring Top Chefs

Being around so many talented chefs has inspired many graduates to a higher level of creativity and drive for success, two attributes sought after by employers.

Culinary school isn't the only path to a cooking career, but it can give you a solid and sought-after level of experience and connection simply working in the field may not provide.

About the Author

Olivia Tacelli is a freelance writer specializing in all things culinary. She has been a chef and caterer for 18 years, and has run her own whole foods cooking business, The Olive Tree, for 8 years.

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