Selecting a culinary school is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life and your career. It’ll determine what your life is like for the next two to four years, plus make a significant impact on your professional path for the rest of your life.
What should you look at when you’re choosing a culinary school? How do you make your decision? Here are some of the most important things to consider.
This is perhaps the most important thing to consider. Certain schools have an extremely strong reputation in the culinary community. Going to one of these schools will not only help you get a great education, but look great on your resume. But the benefits don’t stop there.
Many of these top schools can also help you make valuable connections. Many of the teachers and professors are chefs or have been chefs at some of the world’s top restaurants. Getting a recommendation from such a teacher can give you a leg up in the job market.
The School’s Kitchen
Another big consideration is what kind of kitchen and restaurant the school operates. Some schools operate with state of the art equipment, while others use very outdated equipment.
Ideally, you should go to a school that serves real people in a real restaurant-like environment. For example, over 800 patrons frequent the Los Angeles Trade Tech College every day. Culinary students studying at this school get real hands on experience in cooking in a real restaurant’s kitchen environment.
The Social Life
What will your overall social experience of the school be like? Of course, this isn’t something you can find out by reading the school’s marketing materials. Yet it’s still an important factor to consider.
The best way to figure out what the social life of a school is like is to visit the school before enrolling. Ask other students and other teachers what the social atmosphere and general vibe is like.
Type of Cuisine and Specialty
Another important factor is to consider what kind of cuisines the school teaches. Some schools specialize in just one type of cooking, while other schools run the whole gamut.
Try to get a sense for a school’s reputation for various types of cuisines. A French cooking school for example might not have the best pastry department, even if the school overall has a strong reputation.
Costs and Location
How much is the tuition going to run you? Generally, you can expect to pay around $10,000 a year for a lower end culinary school and as much as $40,000 a year for a top end culinary school.
Of course, location can also play a big factor in determining costs. If you’ll be traveling between school and home regularly, things like flights and driving costs need to be taken into consideration. Also, the location of the school is going to play a determining factor in rent costs.
These are some of the most important things to consider when you’re deciding on a culinary school. Weigh the various pros and cons of these different factors before making your final decision.