How do I Choose the Best Gourmet Cooking School?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 January 2019
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Gourmet food is the Ivy League of the culinary world, although what constitutes the term may be vaguely defined. Basically stated, gourmet food is beautifully presented, perfectly cooked dishes featuring high-quality ingredients that are often rare or unusual. For a chef, choosing a gourmet cooking school can be a tricky process, as he or she must winnow through the garnishes of accolades and airs of superiority to get to the meat of a program. Location, cost, reputation, and career goals must all be considered before choosing a gourmet cooking school.

Food has become a major part of modern society, thus urban centers may offer a variety of cooking schools for perspective chefs. People interested in attending a gourmet cooking school should look for programs that focus on high-class presentation and that are interested in food innovation. If a chef has a desire to open a family-style burger joint, gourmet cooking school is probably not the place for him or her. If however, a chef's dream is to open an exclusive burger restaurant where the meat comes from rare game birds, fish, and exotic animals and is presented in new and exciting ways, gourmet school may be the best place to begin.


Most large cities offer several gourmet cooking schools, but do not overlook the possibilities of studying in more rural areas. Heavy agricultural areas, such as the Napa and Sonoma Valleys of Northern California, can offer world-famous gourmet training that includes a deep understanding of produce and seasonality. Chefs that study in locations where the food is actually grown may have a deeper and more clear understanding of the entire culinary process, rather than simply knowing how to put ingredients into a dish.

The cost of gourmet cooking school may be prohibitive to some, and since cooking schools are often considered trade programs, financial aid can be difficult to come by. Before choosing a gourmet cooking school, carefully inquire about financial aid programs, scholarships, and the possibility of holding outside jobs while attending. If the institution cannot help find a way to pay for the education, chances are the cash-strapped potential chef will do better elsewhere. Being financially rational when choosing a school can allow graduates to be concerned with furthering their career after leaving, rather than frantically trying to pay off enormous loans.

In the job market after culinary school, it is certainly true that reputation matters. If applying for jobs as a pastry chef, having attended a school known for dessert innovations and famous pastry chefs may help land a position. Most gourmet cooking schools are only too happy to brag about the careers of successful alumni; knowing what the school is famous for can help determine if the program will help with personal goals.

Although reputation can be a helpful factor, it is obviously far from the most important feature. A gourmet cooking school that will make a student into the best chef possible is more important than all the awards and accolades in the world. Try to choose a school based on the atmosphere, observed curriculum, and how it can further career goals rather than based on reputation. A great chef will prove his or her talents regardless of where training took place.



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