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What is Cook School?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cook school is a layperson’s term for a cooking school or culinary school. The cook school may have a variety of purposes, from offering cooking classes to children to awarding culinary degrees and certification. The location of a cook school may be the kitchen of the local park and recreation department or the kitchens of Le Cordon Bleu, the largest hospitality education training institution in the world. Gaining admission to a cook school may be as simple as a phone call and a credit card payment, or require an application, a well-thought-out letter explaining your motivation to attend culinary school, and a hefty application fee.

Focusing on culinary schools, there are a range of courses that one might expect to find taught there and a variety of degrees and certificates that one might earn. In most culinary schools, there is a Cuisine curriculum and a Pâtisserie curriculum or a Culinary Arts curriculum and a Baking and Pastry Arts curriculum. In some cases, certificates are offered at several levels at several levels, for example, basic, intermediate, and superior. A Certificate in Professional Cooking may also be offered, in which case the certificate levels may be Certified Culinarian, Certified Chef de Cuisine, and Certified Executive Chef, as they are at the Culinary Institute of America.

In addition, you may find degree programs, including associates or associates in occupational studies degrees and bachelor of arts or bachelor of professional studies degrees. Fields of study may include Baking and Pastry, Sustainability, Wine and Beverage, Hospitality and Restaurant Management. Some schools place their culinary education in a school of hospitality, with the result that degrees and certificates in related fields, such as Foodservice Management or Food Store.

There are highly-regarded culinary schools in many different parts of the world. Le Cordon Bleu alone has 29 schools in Paris, France; London, England; Ottawa, Canada; Seoul, Korea; Kobe and Tokyo, Japan; Adelaide and Sydney, Australia; and across the United States. Julia Child was one of its graduates.

Widely known culinary schools in the United States include the Culinary Institute of America, which has locations in New York, California, and Texas, and uses the abbreviation CIA, just like the Central Intelligence Agency. Graduates include Food Network stars Sara Moulton and Michael Chiarello and Iron Chef Cat Cora. Anthony Bourdain, host of several cooking shows including No Reservations, is also a graduate. Johnson & Wales University, from which Food Network chef and restaurant owner Emeril Lagasse graduated, has four United States campuses.

There are also smaller culinary schools. The New England Culinary Institute in Vermont is a small culinary arts school, but bosts famous graduates like Alton Brown, who created and hosts the Food Network show Good Eats. Others include DCT European Culinary Arts and Pastry & Chocolate Center in Switzerland.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth , Writer
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for WiseGeek, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.

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Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth


Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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