Although not all successful chefs have formal training, a culinary school can give you a leg up in your career. While hard work can take you far, culinary training provides the technical skills and tools that can give you an edge in what is an extremely competitive field. In addition, it gives you the mental discipline needed to work in the pressure cooker that a busy kitchen can become.
Below are some of the best cooking schools in the world to give you a taste of what's out there. The school you choose will depend on your cooking philosophy and the type of food you want to cook. No matter which school you decide to attend, the key to success is learning as much as you can and applying it.
Le Cordon Bleu, France
The world's largest and arguably most well-known as one of the best cooking schools in the world, Le Cordon Bleu, was established in France in 1895. With campuses across the globe, London, Madrid, Tokyo, Australia, Canada, and more, the school offers the Grand Diploma program, a comprehensive study of classic French culinary skills. This program is considered one of the best ways to prepare for different career options. Aspiring chefs can specialize in cuisine, pastry, nutrition, wine and spirits, and nutrition. This large international network of campuses offers numerous opportunities around the world.
Culinary Institute of America, USA
The first culinary school in the US and now one of the top culinary schools in the world, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) moved to what is now its main campus in Hyde Park, NY, in 1972. In addition to the Hyde Park location, the CIA now has campuses in California, Texas, and Singapore. The school offers shorter certificate and associate degree programs as well as complete, four-year bachelor's programs. Degrees are awarded in applied food science, culinary science, hospitality management, and food business management. Students get hands-on experience at the campus restaurants open to the public.
The School of Artisan Food, UK
Located in Welbeck, UK, The School of Artisan Food teaches the slow art of creating artisan food. It offers courses in bread making, cheese making, charcuterie, butchery, brewing, and preserving, to name just a few. Associated with Nottingham University, the school is renowned worldwide for teaching unique, traditional skills.
Culinary Arts Academy, Switzerland
Founded in 1991, the Culinary Arts Academy features campuses in Lucerne and Le Bouveret, Switzerland. One of the most respected culinary schools in the world, the Culinary Arts Academy offers programs in kitchen skills and entrepreneurship. With only 300 enrolled students, classes are small, and students get tons of personal attention from top-notch instructors. There are internship opportunities available from the Ritz Escoffier and Ritz Paris.
Culinary Institute of Barcelona, Spain
Culinary Institute of Barcelona nurtures innovation and creativity in aspirational restaurant leaders. The school rejects the traditional methodology of teaching recipes and focuses on product, technique, and context to teach future chefs how to innovate, problem-solve, and adapt to unexpected circumstances and ingredients so that they can produce a delicious meal no matter what is thrown at them.
Institute of Culinary Education
Founded in 1975 and originally called Peter Kump's New York Cooking School, the Institute of Culinary Education holds 1,500 classes a year covering subjects such as culinary arts, pastry and baking, hospitality management, and culinary management at all skill levels. It also offers continuing education and recreational courses.
Ferrandi, Paris, France
Teaching and training chefs for almost 100 years, Ferrandi offers a wide range of programs, from vocational courses to master's degrees. The school's educational philosophy blends traditional classroom work, kitchen learning, and real-world experience in local restaurants and hotels.
Hattori Nutrition College, Tokyo, Japan
Taking a unique approach, Hattori Nutrition College not only teaches culinary skills but also focuses on nutrition, health, the healing potential of food, and how it can benefit people. Students will train to be chefs who not only create delicious dishes but are also mindful of health, safety, and the environment.
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, USA
Named after world-famous Auguste Escoffier, the eponymous culinary school has campuses in Boulder, Colorado, and Austin, Texas. Escoffier revolutionized the culinary world by formally training chefs and by developing a la carte menus. The school teaches Escoffier's exacting French Techniques and espouses his philosophy of discipline. Following the farm-to-table method, the school covers where food comes from and encourages its students to respect sustainable practices and local food sources.
A working kitchen is a fast-paced environment, making a culinary career exciting and rewarding. Training at a top culinary school gives you the tools for success and a foundation that will serve you well in your first job and as you advance in the field.