Choosing the best French culinary school takes research and consideration of goals, and not all schools will be the "best" for every student. Some things prospective students might want consider include professional reputation, types of training, location, accreditation, and cost. It’s worth determining whether selecting a solely French culinary school is the only option, since other schools may have a wider approach that still offers excellent training in this type of cooking.
Reputation of a French culinary school is important and encompasses many different aspects. Among these is the school’s proven job placement ability. Some schools have strong job placement programs and high student graduation rates. Additionally, chefs are better circumstanced if they attend a school that is well known and has the respect of the restaurant industry, as this leads to more work opportunities. People looking for schools should search for those that hold a good reputation, and if they cannot find this information easily, they might contact a few leading restaurants in the area, and ask for an interview with chefs to get advice on this issue.
Type of training is a valuable consideration, too. Any strongly constructed French culinary school program should feature a significant amount of hands-on training. The best way to become expert in cooking is to do a lot of it. Programs offered by correspondence or that principally have a theoretical approach to cooking will not be as good at preparing chefs for the rigors of work in an actual kitchen. Schools should boast a considerable amount of kitchen time with training in all areas of French cookery.
Many argue that location can be an important part of choosing the best French culinary school. Attending a school close to geographic areas with a strong culinary emphasis could lead to more jobs. Some suggest the best French schools are ideally located in France, but there are certainly excellent French method schools in other regions with a number of classically trained chefs/instructors. Referring back to the issue of how strong a school’s job placement program is may help determine the importance of location.
Culinary schools can have different levels of accreditation or degrees earned. Some can award associate and/or bachelor’s degrees for people interested in hospitality or restaurant management. Accreditation means that units earned are transferable to other colleges. It can also affect the level of funding available to attend French culinary school. Non-accredited programs don’t provide access to grants and loans, which makes school difficult to afford. Would-be chefs are advised to only pick programs that are regionally accredited to avoid this issue.
Cost is definitely an issue and may be the deciding factor for some students. As mentioned, regionally accredited French culinary schools offer more opportunities to get loans and possibly some grants. Students may also access some less expensive culinary training programs at places like community colleges, though these don’t necessarily specialize in French cuisine. Nevertheless, some community college programs have excellent reputations and they are frequently much less expensive than private school options.