A culinary school is a professional school which offers training specifically in the culinary arts. There are a number of different types of culinary schools all over the world with curricula ranging from traditional French cooking to raw foods. Going to culinary school is one way to become a chef, and it will certainly increase the potential employability of someone who would like to pursue a career in professional kitchens.
In culinary schools, students study a wide range of topics. A student can attend a general program, picking up a great deal of topical knowledge, or a student can choose to focus on a particular aspect of cooking. Common topics covered in culinary school include baking, catering, desserts, handling and choosing fresh meats and vegetables, ethnic cuisines, and restaurant management. A graduate of a cooking school is expected to be able to perform in a professional kitchen successfully, and many cooking schools offer chef placement services to assist their graduates.
A student may choose to focus on a particular skill in culinary school, such as patisserie, the art of baking French style pastries. A pastry chef learns the nuances of the art of baking, and is able to produce things like cookies, pies, tarts, breads, and an assortment of other sweet and savory pastries. Another student might choose to focus more on the restaurant management end of culinary school, with the end goal of supervising a kitchen or working in another branch of the hospitality industry. Others might want a strong education in ethnic and fusion cuisine.
Going to culinary school can get expensive. Some schools offer financial assistance, but students also need to be prepared to purchase an assortment of equipment to work with. In most cases, a culinary school takes the form of an intensive program, in which students focus on the culinary arts for one to two years. While in school, the students may work in the school's demonstration kitchen, cooking for the public, and they may also handle event catering and other entertainments as part of their training.
When choosing a culinary school, students should think about their end goals. If a student thinks that he or she wants to specialize in baking, for example, a school with a strong baking program should be selected. Students who want to be managers might want to attend a restaurant management program. Other considerations are the cost and location of the school, along with assistance provided to students. Some culinary schools offer grants, loans, and housing, while others expect students to make their own way. Finally, visiting the school and talking to current students and graduates is recommended. Do not be afraid to ask about where graduates are working, and whether or not the school offers chef placement.