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Get Cooking: The Ultimate Guide on How to Get into Culinary School

12/04/2023

Do you love to cook? Is it your passion to create amazing and delectable dishes for your family and friends? You may want to consider studying in the culinary arts curriculum. From learning the precise techniques needed for baking and cooking to learning the ins and outs of hospitality management, a culinary school can help you prepare for a career in the food preparation industry.

Choosing a culinary school and going through the application process can be overwhelming if you’ve never navigated this process before. In this article, we’ll help you find out how to get into culinary school. Let’s take a look at some considerations that can help you find the right program and successfully apply.

Step 1: Decide What Culinary Program You Want to Study First

There are a number of culinary programs within this type of curriculum that you can choose from once you’ve decided that this is the direction you want to take with your professional life. It’s really important that you take some time to consider what’s available to you. You may already know what your passion is and where you want your studies to take you, but there may also be programs that you weren’t aware existed.

Ideally, you want to choose a culinary program that piques your interest. It won’t feel like work if you truly love what you do.

Taking photo of the prepared dish in the culinary academy.

Culinary Arts Degree

If you want to take the long road and become an executive or a head chef one day, you should consider earning a culinary arts degree. You will have two options to choose from:

Culinary Arts programs offer students the opportunity to learn traditional and contemporary culinary techniques. In addition to the cooking aspect of this curriculum, some courses focus on business skills to increase company profit and potential. You’ll learn valuable information that can be carried over from a small-scale local restaurant to one of the highest-rated restaurants in the world. Some of the other topics covered as part of a culinary arts program can include:

  • Menu planning
  • Table service
  • Financial considerations
  • Marketing
  • Food science
  • Brand creation and management

If you want to understand the full potential of a culinary degree, then take a look at our post about what you can learn in a culinary school.

Pastry and bakery course

Pastry and Bakery

Pastry and bakery programs available in some culinary schools provide you with the knowledge to work in positions such as a cake designer and decorator, run your own bakery at home, work in the dessert area of a restaurant and direct the daily production at a bakery.

You’ll learn all about creating your own doughs, bread, pastries, cookies and cakes from scratch. From the basics to the more elaborate creations of a pastry chef, your courses will span many topics. You’ll also learn about the business aspect of this field, including starting your own business and the financial aspect of running a business.

Professional Certificate in Food Preparation

A professional certificate in food preparation offers knowledge of various food safety and sanitation procedures. You also learn about preparing a number of foods. Expect to learn the importance of proper knife skills, managing a buffet, shelf life and the nutrition aspect of culinary arts.

Cold and Hot Kitchen

Some culinary schools offer short-term courses for people who are more interested in improving their cooking skills. Cold and Hot Kitchen program is one of those courses. It includes both lessons and hands-on practice. Students learn about kitchen safety, nutrition, and how to make different dishes. They practice cooking meats, fish, vegetables, salads, and sauces. The course also covers basic molecular cooking techniques.

After finishing the course, students can cook many dishes on their own. They know how to make salads, soups, and main courses. They can cook meat, fish, and vegetarian meals. Students also learn about foods from different countries.

Step 2: Find a Culinary School

Ok, let’s imagine that you have chosen what you want to study and you know why you want to do it. Now you need to consider where you want to study. And this can be quite a challenging question as there are plenty of established, reputable culinary schools all across the world.

It may be necessary for you to remain relatively close to home while you obtain your education. If you have the ability to venture outside of your current location, you can obtain your culinary degree from one of the excellent schools in Europe, North America, etc.

Many prospective students believe that they won’t be able to afford an education abroad, especially when considering the cost of room and board. However, numerous schools make participation in their programs quite affordable by offering financial aid or scholarships. Keep in mind that education in Europe can often be more affordable compared to the US. So, if distance isn’t an issue for you, studying in Europe could be a great option. You can receive the same high level of education at more affordable rates.

Just don’t forget to check if your school has the necessary program you are interested in.

Step 3: Check the Requirements for Applying to the Culinary School

Each Culinary Arts program will have its own set of requirements for enrolling and completing the program successfully. However, many of these requirements are similar regardless of where you’re applying. To begin, you’ll want to decide between a long program such as achieving your associate’s degree, or something shorter like a certification program that focuses on a very brief curriculum.

For example, HRC Culinary Academy requires proof of your secondary school diploma. You will also need to submit your grades, which must be more than 62% in order to be eligible for enrollment. Once enrolled, you will need to purchase a uniform and tool kit. These items will be used in all of your classes throughout your time at HRC Culinary Academy.

Depending on the academy location, you may also need to submit certain information in case you have to go through a visa process. This is why it is good to make sure you meet all requirements for foreigners before applying to a culinary school abroad. Once you have arrived, you will be directed through the process of applying for a residence permit or a different process depending on the host country.

Step 4: Apply to the Culinary School

The time of application will depend on the program you’re choosing (long versus short) as well as all the paperwork that may be needed for your enrollment. Make sure that you start to get everything together as early as possible. That way, you won’t miss any deadlines or slow down the process of acceptance.

a man preparing for the culinary school

Step 5. Prepare for the Culinary School

Before you arrive at your culinary school, there are some things you can do to get ahead of the game.

  • Practice at home: Try new recipes and practice basic skills like chopping vegetables and cooking meat.
  • Practice good kitchen habits: Always wash your hands, keep your workspace clean, and store food properly.
  • Try different foods: Taste cuisines from around the world to expand your palate.
  • Read Cookbooks: Check out different cookbooks. Try to understand different cooking methods and ingredients. Here some examples of books you start with:
    • “On Food and Cooking”, by Harold McGee
    • How Baking Works”, by Paula Figoni
    • “Culinary Artistry”, by Andrew Dornenburg & Karen Page
    •  “The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection”, by Michael Ruhlman

FAQ About How To Get Into Culinary School

What is the difference between a culinary school and a traditional university or college?

Culinary schools generally have smaller class sizes, which means that you are likely to receive more individual attention and focused instruction from your instructors. This is particularly advantageous for students who are new to the culinary arts and need more guidance and support during the learning process.

In contrast, universities and colleges tend to have much larger student populations, which can make it difficult for instructors to provide the same level of attention and support. This can be especially challenging in culinary programs, which require a significant amount of hands-on learning and practical experience.

In a culinary school, you can expect to work closely with experienced chefs who will share their knowledge and expertise with you. You will have the opportunity to learn from their personal experiences and receive personalized feedback on your work. This focused attention can help you develop your skills more quickly and effectively than you might in a larger, more impersonal environment.

Can I still get into culinary school if I don’t have any cooking experience?

Yes, you can still get into culinary school even if you don’t have any cooking experience. Many culinary schools offer programs for beginners and those who have no prior cooking knowledge.

In fact, some schools even prefer students who are new to the culinary world because they are more open to learning new techniques and developing their skills from scratch. As long as you have a passion for cooking and a willingness to work hard, you can succeed in culinary school without any prior experience.

Is it difficult to get into culinary school?

Acceptance rates vary from university to university. There are some top schools that are quite difficult to get into, but HRC Culinary Academy makes a culinary arts degree as accessible as possible. If you’re a hard worker with a passion for all things culinary, we encourage you to get started with our application process.

What Kind of Job Opportunities Are Available for Culinary School Graduates?

Completing a culinary arts program exposes you to a lot of different topics. You also have the opportunity to specialize in certain subjects. The job you eventually apply for may include direct food preparation as a chef, sous chef, pastry chef or personal chef. However, you can choose the type of environment you want to work in. Some people prefer a small or personal venue, while others want to travel between large, chain-restaurant kitchens. You can also work in management, brand development and so many other aspects of this industry once you have your degree.

How Much Can I Earn Once I’ve Acquired My Degree?

As with most professions, you’ll start in an entry-level position. From there, the amount of hard work that you put into your job will determine how quickly you can climb the corporate ladder. An entry-level culinary position will usually bring in approximately $15 to $20 per hour. The annual income of a culinary professional in the U.S. and Europe is pretty similar, ranging from $35,000 to $50,000. After a series of promotions and title changes, you can earn $80,000 per year and upwards as an executive chef.

Do I need to attend a prestigious culinary school to be successful in the industry?

A degree from a prestigious culinary school can help you get started with your career, but it’s not necessarily a requirement. There are plenty of schools that provide you with industry information and expertise that will help you succeed.

Ready for Culinary School?

There are a number of methods you can use to learn the proper way of working in a restaurant or in the hospitality field. While you may be tempted to find a job right out of high school and attempt to focus on obtaining promotions, it’s likely you will only get so far. Motivated students select culinary school as a way to learn from the best while becoming educated in an enriching and supportive environment. At HRC Culinary Academy, we provide you with the opportunity to develop your skills while making valuable connections before you enter the working world. Reach out to our admissions staff for more information.

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