July 12, 2019

Understanding the educational processes driving online culinary schools

The internet has transformed the way people go about their daily lives. Just in terms of work and school, students and professionals alike can easily telecommute to a variety of jobs and educational programs in a way that was hard to imagine just a few decades ago. And while there's no technology yet available that could allow a chef to work in a kitchen remotely, there are valuable digital learning opportunities for aspiring culinary professionals who want to learn their craft online.

A chef taking a photo of a plated dish on a smartphone.Photos play a key role in an online culinary school education.

How do online culinary schools work?

An online culinary school is, in many ways, very similar to a traditional on-campus program. Students work under the watchful eye of qualified culinary professionals, learn about a variety of topics crucial to a successful career in the industry – from cooking and constructing a menu to business management – and face a challenging but enriching atmosphere.

The best online culinary schools offer equivalent educational outcomes to students as well, providing the same certificate or diploma that on-campus students receive at the end of their program. They also provide opportunities for in-person learning experiences, such as externships at a variety of restaurants. We Are Chefs said online programs offer some advantages that may not be present in traditional programs, such as increased flexibility and opportunities for students to lead their own learning experiences. Additionally, the current state of internet infrastructure allows for in-depth tutorials, live-streamed and archived instruction and lectures, and access to large libraries of information with a minimum of effort.

But what about the food?

The one question that immediately comes to mind for many prospective students considering an online culinary diploma program relates to the food they will prepare. How can participants be instructed and graded effectively if the experienced chefs leading each cooking-focused class can't taste the food that learners prepare? There are a few different tactics that strong online culinary schools will use to address this concern, including:

  • Understanding that, in the professional world, not every single dish can be tasted: A steak, for example, can't have a piece cut out of it, and shouldn't even be cut into to check its doneness, before it's brought to the customer. An emphasis on developing fundamental skills helps students create consistent dishes that have reliable flavors in a variety of culinary settings.
  • Emphasizing students' own abilities to taste and understand flavors: With an early emphasis on setting learners' own expectations and helping them understand how flavors relate to each other, students can self-evaluate their food. Aroma, texture and flavor profile all come into play and can be quantified by students. This allows instructors to provide valuable guidance based on students' own reports.
  • Utilizing experiential snapshots: While they can't taste the dishes prepared in home kitchens, instructors request images of the cooking process. With this chronological view of the cooking process and in combination with the students' own evaluation of their food, it's possible to review the task in depth.
  • Leveraging externships: Great culinary schools offer externships for students, where their skills can be fine-tuned in a traditional environment while learners gain valuable experience and build professional connections.

What sets Escoffier apart?

The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is the only accredited institution to offer a 100% online professional diploma program in the U.S. Additionally, we're the only institution that includes an industry externship as part of the online learning experience. Combined with experienced, dependable faculty who understand the unique nature of providing an online culinary education and a broad, business-focused curriculum, prospective students can rest assured that the Escoffier online culinary school program is one of the very best in the country.