How to Choose a Culinary Art School Roanoke VA
How to Choose a Culinary Art School
Once upon a time, being a chef didn’t require one to attend a Culinary Arts School. However, with the success rates of people who do go to culinary art schools, even seasoned chefs are thinking about getting a formal education to further their careers. Cooking, after all, is more than just having good taste buds now and knowing your way around knives. It’s become far more competitive than that.
So how exactly would you choose a good cooking or culinary arts school? What can give you that competitive edge over a gazillion other chefs and sous chefs in the field? What is the benefit of going to a cooking school over learning the ropes in an actual restaurant?
Benefits of cooking schools
Admittedly, your rise to your career as a chef is faster when you have formal education to back it up. Good cooking schools teach you the basics and more. They let you specialize in a specific delicacy, and they can make sure that you learn everything to the level of mastery. As a matter of fact, you can earn the degree of master chef in as short as six years. If you work your way up through restaurant experience alone, you might spend 10 years of your life just trying to be a sous chef. Some professional cooks don’t even get to that level because they’re stuck in the grind of serving the same line-up of meals day in and day out. There’s more room for growth in a culinary arts school in terms of specializing in gourmet cooking.
What some schools may lack
On the other hand, chefs who graduate from cooking schools sometimes get the shock of their lives once they’re put in an actual restaurant set up. This is because in cooking schools, schooled chefs only get to serve about 80 people in a day, and that’s already considered a lot. In real life, chefs in restaurants need to serve top quality food to as much as 800 customers in a day, depending on the restaurant’s size. If it’s a renowned French restaurant, you can be sure that the chef there works with the efficiency of a robot without losing his artistic flair in mixing flavors in the good.
So what should you look for?
What you need to look for is the school’s accreditation. There are tens of thousands of cooking schools opening all over the globe now, especially with the popularity of celebrity chefs in the media. Everyone seems to just want to get into the boat. You would want to make sure that you’re not just enrolling in the most expensive cooking school, but one with the highest number of successful chefs. To find these cooking schools, you can make a list of 5 to 10 chefs you admire and look at which cooking schools they’ve attended in the past. After picking your top three schools, you can compare them in terms of 1) accreditation and ranking 2) facilities and 3) price.
Expensive schools don’t always cut it
You also have to get out of the mind frame that expensive schools are always the best ones. There are a lot of community cooking schools which are accredited and they could give you the same level of education that these expensive culinary arts schools promise. As a matter of fact, older community cooking schools might be armed with more credible chef masters who can teach you the ropes in the business. Some expensive cooking schools are also just us capable of producing high quality education for aspiring chefs, but not all of them can. Look at the roster of chef masters teaching in the school. If the chef you plan to study under is included in the list, you can give the school a try.
High end facilities aren’t always good tools
Once you’re actually working as a chef for a restaurant, you can be sure that the facilities here will be less than perfect. Most of them, you will “inherit” from other chefs who have worked for the restaurant in the past. When you choose a cooking school, there’s nothing wrong with choosing the one with the best facilities. However, it will do you good if you can learn in a more realistic set up. Again, community cooking schools are closer to the real restaurant set up compared to privately-owned culinary arts institutions. You might want to think twice about enrolling yourself in a fancy school once you get a peek at how real restaurant kitchens look like.
If you must be enrolled in a cooking school that serves lesser people every day and gives you a kitchen that’s more immaculate than the restaurant kitchens in the real world, it’s a good idea for you to go into externships. Externships are also called practicum opportunities, and they’re the perfect chance for you to get a taste of the real world. As a matter of fact, most cooking schools not advice aspiring chefs to go into externships with bustling restaurants in the city. This way, they wouldn’t have to experience the shock of serving hundreds of customers while they’re actually on the job. Most of the time the student-chef’s true potentials are also discovered while s/he is in an externship.
Before you enroll yourself in a cooking school, you also have to discover your personal principle when it comes to food and cooking. Do you go by the book or are you more on the spontaneous side? Do you like fusions or are you a purist when it comes to choosing and cooking food? Unless you’ve figured out your own personal cooking principle, you might just end up shifting from one cooking school to another.
Serious aspirants already have their whole career mapped out before they enroll in a formal cooking school. Just like any other schools of thought, culinary arts schools are also made up of master chefs who share a common belief about food and cooking. You should always choose the culinary arts school that’s closest to your heart.