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When looking for cooking classes, you should consider what it is you really want out of the classes, and look for a school that will reward you for your efforts and financial investment. You want to be sure that you choose cooking classes that will give you the skills and information you need and want, but will also allow you to work them into the life you already have established. It can also be helpful for you to look for certain credentials, such as Le Cordon Bleu affiliation or other nationally recognized indicators of culinary excellence.
It can be helpful to begin by deciding what it is you truly want to get from taking cooking classes. If you want to become a professional chef working in the food industry, then you should likely look for a full-time program that can offer you the opportunity to learn the different techniques and skills a professional chef needs. On the other hand, if you only want to learn some new things to improve your cooking skills in your own kitchen, then individual cooking classes with fewer requirements for enrollment may better satisfy your needs.
You may also want to consider what field you want to focus on or specialize in, especially if you are looking to become a professional chef. While certain fundamental aspects of cooking are the same across various fields of cooking, there are certainly differences between a pastry chef and a chef who runs an entire kitchen. Similarly, someone looking to specialize as a baker would want to receive training and experience in properly mixing ingredients and working with dough for baking. Even if you only want to increase your own personal knowledge within the kitchen, you might consider looking for cooking classes that focus on a specific area you wish to know more about.
Once you know what you want, then you should begin to really look for a school that will satisfy your needs and give you the quality you deserve for the money you spend. Professional culinary schools can be quite expensive, and you would not want to pay a great deal of money for cooking classes that do not really teach what you need to know. You should look for a school that is affiliated with high culinary standards such as Le Cordon Bleu or that has accreditation from recognized groups such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Taking these types of steps can help you ensure that the school you go to is legitimate and will be worth your investment of both time and money.
In my opinion, the first thing to find out is whether you really want to take a cooking class for fun, or professional classes. This is a good time to take a couple of community education classes that don't cost a lot, but will give you an idea of what you really want to do.
I'd like to take a class in food presentation. I can cook great food, but I have no idea how to make it look professional on the plate. I don't make "pretty" food, and I'd like to learn. One of these days, I'm also going to take a couple of cake decorating classes.