If you are passionate about food and love cooking, you may want to become a chef. The best way to start your cooking career is to attend a professional cooking school. A culinary school will prepare you to work in restaurants, bakeries, catering and “food to go” services. You have to know what to look for and what to expect from a professional cooking school.
Before you start looking for a cooking school, you must have an idea of what you are going to do. Check out the hotels and restaurants in your area and find out what appeals to you. Try talking to the executive chefs and ask about the different fields of professional cooking.
Once you have an idea of the culinary field you want to get into, you can start searching for schools that offer the appropriate culinary program you need. Look for a professional cooking school with proper accreditation from the American Culinary Federation (ACF) or the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT).
A professional cooking school will require you to submit a high school transcript and proof that you have graduated. A GED (General Educational Development) is also acceptable. Letters of recommendation from prior employment in the food industry may also help with your application. Some schools may require prospective students to take an entrance exam or have an extensive cooking background. At any rate, you should find out in advance what the cooking school may require for admission.
Many schools for professional cooking offer programs that emphasize “learning by doing.” Special attention is given to the practical side of food preparation. Graduates of this kind of culinary arts program are qualified to work in entry-level food service positions such as sous chef, baker, pantry person or short-order cook.
Students will also learn how to plan for catered affairs and how to prepare, garnish and serve hot and cold foods for parties and receptions. They also learn techniques of cooking and packaging gourmet food.
In a professional cooking school, students also learn about restaurant operations. This involves supervising daily restaurant operations including recipe selection, menu planning and cost control. Students also learn to keep inventories and set prices.
Part of a culinary school experience is externship where students learn to implement the skills they have obtained in the classrooms and kitchen. Externship provides actual experience in a restaurant, bakery or other food service establishment.
Students should remember that they don’t have to travel far to find a professional cooking school that can provide the training they need in a specific culinary field. A school close to home may be able to provide the quality and type of culinary education that they require.