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Five Things You Can Learn In Culinary School Other Than Cooking


Culinary School will teach you more than wine-pairing and filleting. Here’s what culinary arts students get from their education that goes beyond cooking.

You can learn the ins and outs of cooking fine cuisine or baking delicious pastries and breads at culinary school. But the non-cooking skills you learn are no less crucial to your future success as a chef or culinary arts professional. Here are the other takeaways from a culinary education that you can’t get anywhere else.

  1. Cooking professionally is different from cooking at home. It sounds like a no-brainer, but culinary school will teach you how to behave like a professional in the kitchen. This means helping you understand how a professional kitchen should “flow” and how to set yourself up for success when dealing with large crowds.
  2. Professional cooking is a team effort. Television chefs give the impression that professional cooking is a one-man job, but turning out good food in a restaurant setting requires more than one person—in some restaurants, there is an entire squadron behind the scenes, making the magic happen. Culinary school helps aspiring chefs understand who does what in a kitchen, and gives them a chance to practice working as a team under pressure. The result is chefs who can cope with the fast pace and demanding atmosphere of a professional kitchen.
  3. Food safety and sanitation. There are hundreds of ways to please a customer’s palate, and nearly as many ways to inadvertently make him or her sick. Culinary school turns out chefs that are responsible and informed as well as skilled: when you graduate from culinary school, you’ll have a fair bit of medical knowledge as well, knowing everything from what a shiga toxin is to why raw chicken is potentially so hazardous to your customers’ health.
  4. Management skills. You may not nab a head chef’s job right out of culinary school, but you’ll understand what a head chef does. In culinary programs you will learn the ins and outs of how to run a busy kitchen. Menu analysis, food costing and budgeting, dealing with suppliers, and liasing with front-of-house staff all fall under this umbrella. So does understanding employment law—absolutely vital if you’re ever going to be involved in the hiring process during your career.
  5. Networking. Professional chefs, like actors, need contacts to get ahead in their business. The instructors at culinary schools will all come with varied work histories, and among their past associates will be people that the ambitious chef-to-be will really want to meet. The manager of that hot restaurant, the executive chef at the four-star hotel—they probably know your instructors and rely on them to point out up-and-coming talent. Work this advantage and get your name out there.
 Ready to learn everything you need to know to get started as a professional chef? You can find out more about great culinary schools, such as the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, with campuses in several cities across America.
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