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A cooking school or culinary school is an institution devoted to education in the art and science of food preparation. It also awards degrees which indicate that a student has undergone a particular curriculum and therefore displays a certain level of competency. Cooking schools are often associated with public restaurants where a student can acquire experience in working in a real environment and perform in many roles.
Culinary education in America is still a fairly new concept in relation to that of Europe. Charles Ranhoffer, the chef of Delmonico’s restaurant, the first free-standing restaurant in America, published a national magazine named “Chef” in 1898 which included one of the first calls to establish a cook training school in America (Brown, 2005). Until this point, Ranhoffer had been looking to Europe to solve his staffing problems, however, it was getting to be too expensive and too much work. In 1911, America promoted a system similar to the European one, in which apprentices would have to complete a 6,000 hour work commitment in order to become certified as a chef (Brown, 2005).
The first significant private cooking school in America was the Boston Cooking School, which was created in 1877, however, the most notable was the creation of the Culinary Institute of America in 1946 (Brown, 2005). The Culinary Institute of America brought about a new way to better educate culinary professionals. The school taught students the theory behind their future work and also required them to complete an 18 week paid internship at an approved restaurant, required to create at least 51% of their product from scratch (Brown, 2005). The school uses mainly hands-on teaching styles, ensuring that students learn by doing.
Some schools, such as the Culinary Institute of America and Le Cordon Bleu, offer programs through which a chef may demonstrate his or her knowledge and skills and be given certification. Others, such as Baltimore International College, Stratford University, or Johnson and Wales University, offer programs whereby students gain either an Associate's or Bachelor's degree. There are also a few, such as Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, or Manchester Community College in Connecticut, where students receive upon graduation not only an Associate's degree but also certification by the American Culinary Federation, the largest professional chefs' organization in North America.
Some notable culinary colleges
- Alain & Marie LeNotre Culinary Institute
- Baltimore International College
- Cambridge School of Culinary Arts
- Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago
- Culinard, The Culinary Institute of Virginia College
- Culinary Institute of America
- Culinary School of the Rockies
- DCT University Center - Switzerland
- Johnson & Wales University
- Kendall College - School of Culinary Arts
- Le Cordon Bleu
- New England Culinary Institute
- Paul Smith's College
- Schoolcraft College
- Stratford University
- Sullivan University
- Art Institutes School of Culinary Arts
- The AFC Cooking School
- Western Culinary Institute The first Le Cordon Bleu outside of France