What Does Culinary School Teach You and Can You Move Without it?


So you are considering going to a culinary school, but are unsure if it’s worth the investment. This is a very good question, especially after the stories of famous chefs who don’t have a culinary degree.

You might be wondering what exactly you’ll learn in culinary school and whether this knowledge will be enough to get a job. Well, going to a culinary school does not guarantee that you will build a successful career as a chef and become famous all over the world. However, this knowledge will be a great base that allows you to progress more quickly and is especially useful when you are thinking of opening a restaurant or any food establishment.

So, let’s take a closer look at what culinary education can offer us today.

Student of a culinary school in the kitchen

Culinary School Will Build a Strong Foundation in Culinary Arts

The first thing that you will start learning in a culinary school is the culinary foundation and basic skills. Usually, there are core modules that provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the science behind cooking, food safety guidelines, and professional kitchen equipment.

Understanding Nutrition

In the nutrition module, you’ll explore the mechanics of taste, learning how different flavors work together and how to balance them in your dishes. You’ll also study common food allergies and how to accommodate them in your cooking. This module will teach you about the various nutrients found in food and how heat affects them, allowing you to create dishes that are both delicious and nutritionally balanced.

Learning Kitchen Hygiene & Safety

Food safety is a critical aspect of any culinary career. In the Kitchen Hygiene & Safety module, your instructors will explain the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) guidelines, which are internationally recognized standards for food safety. By the end of this module, you’ll have an understanding how to maintain a clean and safe kitchen environment, prevent cross-contamination, and properly store and handle food. This knowledge is essential for protecting the health and well-being of your customers and staff.

Kitchen Theory

The Kitchen Theory module is where you’ll start to dive deeper into the art and science of cooking. In this module, you can expect to hear about the history of cooking and how it has evolved over time. You’ll also study costing, which is essential for running a profitable kitchen. Additionally, this module will teach you about different types of knives, their uses, and how to maintain them.

One of the most important concepts you’ll become familiar with in this module is mise-en-place, which is the French term for “everything in its place.” This concept is about being organized and prepared in the kitchen, so you can work efficiently and effectively.

Besides that the kitchen theory block can include mastering various cooking techniques:

  • Braising
  • Roasting
  • Sautéing

With this foundation, you’ll be well-prepared for the hands-on learning experiences in kitchen laboratory classes and your future culinary career.

Mastering Cooking Techniques in the Kitchen Laboratory

Developing a great theoretical base is great, of course, but without practical skills, you will not get anywhere. Each school usually has a “training culinary laboratory” and provides training in different types of kitchens. For example, at HRC, we train our students to master French cooking techniques and cuisine. Here is what our students learn during the practical classes.

Stocks, Sauces, and Soups

The foundation of many French dishes lies in the creation of flavorful stocks, sauces, and soups. You’ll learn how to make various types of stocks, such as vegetable, chicken, and beef, which form the basis for many sauces and soups. You’ll also discover how to create classic French sauces like béchamel, velouté, and hollandaise, as well as soups like French onion and bouillabaisse.

Appetizers, Salads, and Pastries

French cuisine is known for its delicate appetizers, fresh salads, and delectable pastries. In the “Kitchen Laboratory”, you’ll have the chance to prepare a variety of these dishes, learning the techniques and presentation skills that make them so appealing. From perfectly balanced vinaigrettes to flaky pastry crusts, you’ll gain the skills to create impressive starters and desserts.

Meats, Poultry, Fish, and Seafood

Mastering the art of cooking meats, poultry, fish, and seafood is essential for any aspiring chef. In our Kitchen Laboratory classes, you’ll learn how to select, prepare, and cook a various type of meat using traditional French techniques. You’ll discover how to create succulent braised meats, perfectly seared fish, and tender poultry dishes that showcase your skills and creativity.

Breads and Desserts

No French meal is complete without delicious bread or dessert. In the Kitchen Laboratory, you’ll have the opportunity to bake classic French breads like baguettes and croissants, as well as create stunning desserts like crème brûlée and tarte tatin. You’ll learn the science behind baking and the techniques that enable you to create amazing dishes every time.

hospitality industry

Developing Essential Skills for the Hospitality Industry

Success in the culinary industry goes beyond just knowing how to cook. That’s why great culinary schools want you to also develop skills that prepare you for the challenges and opportunities of the hospitality industry.

Introduction to Hotel and Tourism Industry

In this module, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of the hospitality industry and its various sectors. You’ll explore current trends shaping the industry and discover the diverse career opportunities available to you as a culinary professional.

Human Resources in the Hospitality Industry

As a culinary professional, you’ll often find yourself working as part of a larger team. Understanding human resources and how to manage and collaborate with others effectively is crucial for success in the industry. In this module, you’ll learn about the role of human resources in the hospitality industry, including recruitment, training, and employee relations. You’ll gain valuable insights into how to build and lead a successful team, creating a positive and productive work environment.

The Power of Teamwork and Communication

Effective communication and teamwork are essential skills in any kitchen. In the Team Work & Communication Skills module, you’ll learn strategies for improving collaboration and cooperation among your colleagues. You’ll discover how to communicate clearly and effectively, both verbally and in writing, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and working towards a common goal. By developing strong teamwork and communication skills, you’ll be better equipped to handle the fast-paced, high-pressure environment of a professional kitchen.

Conflict Resolution and Problem-Solving

In any workplace, conflicts and challenges arise from time to time. Since you are probably aiming to become a chef one day, it’s essential to have the need skills to resolve conflicts and solve problems quickly and effectively.

In this module, you’ll learn techniques for managing conflicts, finding mutually beneficial solutions, and maintaining a positive work environment. You’ll also develop problem-solving skills that enable you to think on your feet and adapt to changing circumstances, ensuring that your kitchen runs smoothly and efficiently.

Culinary internship at Château Neercanne

Gaining Real-World Experience Through Internships

Now we come to the most valuable educational module in a culinary school — culinary internships. During this period you will see the biggest progress in your development, as you will be applying what you have learned in real kitchens and work hand in hand with other professional cooks and chefs.

However, it is worth noting that this module will depend heavily on your culinary school. The salary, duration, and prestige of the training will be determined by the level of your school.

At HRC we offer two internships for students who will be taking our associate degree program. The first one will be in Europe and the other one in the US. If you want to learn more about them, check out our culinary internship programs.

What Else You Can Learn in a Culinary School

And that’s not all. There are many other subjects you will need to learn in a culinary school and skills to develop. To make it not that boring, we decided to highlight in short what else can a culinary school teach you:

  • Business management: learn the fundamentals of running a successful culinary business, including financial planning, marketing, and entrepreneurship.
  • Menu planning: understand how to create profitable menus.
  • Wine and beverage pairing: gain knowledge about various wines, spirits, and other beverages, and learn how to pair them with different dishes to enhance the dining experience.
  • Food science: dive into the scientific principles behind cooking, such as the chemistry of ingredients and the physics of heat transfer, to create unique and precise dishes.
  • Culinary technology: familiarize yourself with the latest culinary technologies, such as sous-vide cooking, molecular gastronomy techniques, and advanced kitchen equipment.
  • Catering and event planning: learn how to plan and execute successful catering events, from intimate gatherings to large-scale functions, and develop your skills in customer service and logistics.

So as you can see, a culinary school is more than just developing the ability to cook delicious food. It includes not only culinary arts, but also business management, which can be very useful for restaurant owners or executive chefs in the future.

We hope we were able to answer your question. If your passion for studying at a culinary school hasn’t disappeared, we invite you to take a look at our culinary programs.

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