May 13, 2020

There is no denying the value of attending a culinary or pastry arts college if you dream of becoming a chef. In this setting, you’ll have the opportunity to learn the skills to potentially one day be a master of your kitchen. This includes learning the best ways to chop and dice ingredients to how to work alongside other staff members.

There are certain things all would-be chefs must be aware of before entering culinary school. We’re happy to offer guidance and information to know what to expect. These lessons are vital in creating realistic expectations and ensuring success in becoming a bona fide kitchen guru.

1. You Do More Than Cook

The transition from high school to college is a big one. Students are thrust into a world of independence where more will be demanded of them. This will also be the case for students attending culinary school.

While you will certainly do plenty of cooking, you will spend time learning all the ins and outs of working in and running a restaurant. Culinary students take a variety of courses that cover everything from cooking skills, kitchen management, food safety, and entrepreneurship, to other important topics such as menu design and foodservice math and accounting. The classes may be challenging – but they will also be interesting and exciting – especially for those with a passion for food!

You’ll have opportunities to learn how to purchase food, handle food, cook food, and present food. For example, the Farm To Table® Experience is a favorite of Escoffier’s culinary students because it covers the entire process “from butchering the pig to cooking the whole hog,” explains Escoffier’s graduate and Michelin Star restaurant Sous Chef Wyl Lima.

Wyl Lima, Austin campus Culinary Arts graduate and Michelin Star restaurant Sous Chef

2. You Have Access to One-on-One Coaching and Mentoring from Distinguished Chefs

While attending culinary school, students appreciate start-to-finish instruction while preparing dishes. The Chef Instructors at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts are celebrated in the industry for their culinary achievements, and students value working one-on-one with them.

Jimena Peck plating dish with Chef instructor at Escoffier Culinary School in Boulder

Boulder campus Culinary Arts student Jimena Peck and Chef Instructor Bob Scherner

The Chef Instructors want their students to succeed. That’s why they go above and beyond to help students pursue their dreams of becoming chefs. Kristin Douglas, Escoffier Online Culinary Arts graduate explains, “Every chef that I’ve had thus far shares everything they know. You can ask any question you want, whenever you want. You can contact them anytime you need to. Facetiming, Zooming, set up a minute,” they’re willing and ready to help.

To fulfill graduation requirements, not only can students learn from their Chef Instructors, they must also participate in an industry externship where they have an opportunity to get hands-on training in a professional kitchen. Your externship mentor can help you apply what you learned in culinary school in “the real world.” To learn about how externships work, request more information.

3. You Will Have the Opportunity to Learn the Importance of Organization and Creativity

Whereas good taste and a passion for food seem obvious, successful students must also be prepared. If your space in the kitchen is chaotic or out-of-whack, it’ll greatly hamper your ability to cook quickly and efficiently. On the plus side, this sense of order filters into the personal lives of many chefs, and they find themselves better prepared to manage finances or a business.

Fortunately, culinary school can provide the ideal environment for introducing or reinforcing the organization skills that many successful chefs possess. Just because someone is organized, however, doesn’t mean he or she will be a great chef. This is because, along with organization, chefs must also be creative.

Organization should not equal bland. Escoffier students enjoy the opportunity to learn how to balance organized meal planning with creative culinary ideas. It’s not enough to simply cook dishes well – you must also have the energy and drive to innovate on your own. Ariel Knutson, Features Director at the popular food magazine The Kitchn, explains that confidence and creativity are two of the top ten important skills she learned in culinary school.

Close-up of male chef plating a molecular dish
Culinary school can be an intense experience, and you’ll need to be confident in your skills and decisions if you want to achieve your goals. It’s these skills combined that can help you reach your true potential.

4. You Will Get the Chance to Build a Network That Can Help You Throughout Your Career

By attending culinary school, you have the opportunity to work with fellow culinarians and world-class chefs from across the country. Networking is key to success in the restaurant industry. Making connections goes a long way towards finding employment as opportunities arise throughout your career. Plus, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts offers job placement assistance to help students and graduates find jobs that fit their skills and passion.

If you have dreams of wearing a white chef’s toque or running your own restaurant or bakery, culinary school could be a great choice. The opportunity for creative insight, learning the business side of food, and building a network of connected alumni and Chef Instructors could help launch you into a rewarding career.

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This article was originally published on January 11, 2016, but has since been updated.