If you’re a busy parent or full-time employee considering culinary school, you’re probably wondering how you could possibly fit it into your packed schedule. Before you give up on your culinary dreams, consider online culinary school!
Escoffier’s online programs can provide students with both a great education and maximum flexibility. While online culinary school is a proven system, people often wonder what the daily schedule will look like.
A week at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts runs from Wednesday to Tuesday, and not each day will be the same. But to get an idea, we’re going to join online student “Emily” on a typical day as she works through her program.
Emily is a busy mom with three kids in school and a part-time job, looking to make a career change. Let’s see what a day as an online culinary student could look like for her.
Like most busy parents, Emily and her husband’s morning is a bustle of making breakfast, finding homework, and tying shoelaces. But once the kids are out of the house and her husband has left for work, Emily can focus on her personal tasks.
First, she sends an email to Career Services at Escoffier. They are helping her polish her resume, so she can start applying for externships to get hands-on training in “the real world.” Emily is looking for an externship at a local catering company since she plans to start her own catering business.
Next, Emily heads to the grocery store to shop for the week ahead. She picks up supplies for her family’s meals and all the ingredients she’ll need for her next cooking assignment.
While she’s waiting in the checkout line, she pulls out her phone to check the Escoffier discussion board and share her thoughts with her online classmates. There was some debate yesterday about the best egg substitutes, and she wants to see what the results were.
After shopping, Emily does some cleaning and starts laundry, so she’ll be free for classwork in the afternoon.
“I worked 60 hours a week as an employee while simultaneously running my business and keeping up with my personal life while attending this school. Because of the support and grace from the staff along with my determination to finish, I graduated from the culinary arts diploma program and completed my first semester in the associate’s program. So if I can do it, anyone can.”*
Shamaya Williams Coats, Escoffier Online Culinary Arts Student
After catching up on household chores, Emily makes a quick lunch and logs on to her computer. She already completed her assigned reading for the week, so she takes the opportunity to re-watch the demo video from her Chef Instructor while eating lunch. Emily knows that the cooking assignment for this week will use a technique from the video, so she wants to see it again before she tries it herself.
While at her computer, she receives a response from Career Services. Her representative has made a few suggestions on her resume and asked Emily to start collecting her favorite photos from her cooking assignments. These photos will be put in a portfolio that she can use in the externship application process.
After lunch, Emily attends her second weekly live session with her classmates. After learning the theory behind the cooking and talking through this week’s course requirements in the first weekly live session, today’s session includes the Chef’s demonstration of related techniques to underscore the course materials that Emily has previously studied. Emily interacts with her classmates in the live session chat, and when the Chef Instructor finishes the demo, Emily chimes in to make sure she understands the different types of pans that can be used for the assignment, so that she can decide which piece of equipment will work best for her.
Although the week’s cooking assignment—slow roasted lamb shoulder—isn’t due for a few days, Emily decides to complete it that day. She has to work at her part-time job for the next two days, so she knows she needs to complete the assignment in advance.
Since she has some free time before her family gets home, she starts by sanitizing her work area and starting her mise en place. She preps vegetables including carrots, celery and garlic, as well as potatoes that she holds in water to prevent them from oxidizing until she’s ready to cook. Emily pays attention to her recipes, making sure to snap the photo requirements for this week’s assignment while she works. She also trims excess fat off the lamb shoulder so it’s ready for cooking.
Emily likes to incorporate her cooking assignments into her family’s dinners so she can make her work do double duty. Her family appreciates tasting new dishes and watching Emily’s progress, and she values the real-time feedback from her husband and children.
As she works her way through her production sheet and snaps more photos of her progress, she realizes that she has a question about one of the techniques that she’ll need when she starts cooking. So she pings her Chef Instructor in the online classroom for clarification.
“Online is a lot more hands-on than people think. My chefs are always right there to help me with any questions I have. And when they grade assignments, they see every step and can help determine what you did right, what you did wrong, and what you need more practice on.”*
Brianna Burroughs, Escoffier Online Culinary Arts Student
With basic prep complete, Emily picks up the kids from school and heads home. While on the road, her Chef Instructor messages her back and provides an video link for Emily to view that further emphasizes his message.
Once the kids are settled in with homework and a snack, it’s time to start cooking!
While Emily cooks her way through her assignment, she documents the process by taking pictures on her phone and writing notes about the cooking process. As part of submitting her work, she’ll need to write a summary of her process and results. Her notes will help her to complete the written critical thinking narrative later where she analyzes what went well and what her challenges were..
When the lamb is ready, the family gathers to eat and chat. Emily takes a few notes over dinner including her thoughts and feedback from the family. She assesses the texture, appearance, and flavor of the dish with the help of the Escoffier flavor wheel.
After dinner, Emily completes her summary of the assignment and uploads her documentation and photos for grading while her husband cleans up the kitchen. She makes sure to include insightful descriptions and notes on the texture of the vegetables, and the tenderness of the meat.
Within a couple of days, she’ll receive video feedback from her Chef Instructor on what went right and what she can improve on next time.
“We have developed an online platform that leverages video, live instruction, as well as personalized individual video feedback. Not only do students have a lot of interaction with their fellow classmates, but they also have individual attention from instructors which can help ensure learning, success, and engagement.”*
Tracy Lorenz, President and CEO of Triumph Higher Education Group & Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
The Schedule of an Online Student
A daytime schedule like Emily follows can work well for a busy parent or someone with a night job. But you can see how online culinary school can fit into the pockets of time throughout your normal daily schedule.
Even students with full-time day jobs or parents with kids attending school remotely can complete online culinary school in the evenings and on weekends or anytime throughout each academic week that works for each individual student. Faculty often give suggestions on how students can plan when to accomplish tasks like reading, watching videos, and completing assignments to stay on track with each week’s requirements.
“I had tried my hand at a dozen careers before my first restaurant line cook job and found my passion for cooking. Initially, it made me want to better myself and follow my passion and enroll in Culinary school. I went from only 7 months’ cooking experience to now 2 years’ cooking experience and now Sous Chef of my job.”*
Waverly Boyce, Escoffier Online Culinary Graduate
All courses include multiple “real-time” sessions each week, but attendance isn’t required in these Live Sessions if the student has a schedule conflict.. Although it’s highly recommended that students attend those sessions in person for the live Q&A, students can watch the recording later if necessary, and reach out to their faculty member individually for their own Q&A. Faculty are available for 1:1 appointments, and also readily communicate with students by text, email and phone so that students always feel supported in their studies.
In terms of time commitment from students, around 15-22 hours per week is spent on school related activities depending on program, credential and personal pace. Students from all walks of life can make online culinary school work with their busy schedules!
To learn more about online Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts, Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management, Plant-Based Culinary Arts, and Holistic Nutrition & Wellness programs at Escoffier, explore our online resources. And feel free to contact us to discuss admissions, financial aid, and more!
If you found this article helpful, read these next:
- Who Hires Online Culinary School Graduates?
- 5 Benefits of Online Culinary School Classes
- The Advantages of Online Learning: Why Online Education is Here to Stay
This article was originally published on September 14, 2020, and has since been updated.
*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.