Unleash your inner chef: Cooking schools across the USA
This country has no shortage of options for learning how to cook. There are hundreds of culinary schools in the United States, over 700 colleges that offer cooking classes (including Boston University), and thousands of other venues that offer cooking lessons for everyone. That ever-increasing list of culinary institutions owes itself in part to the culinary revolution that’s been going on here. In the past 20 years, Americans’ food awareness has only increased, and the universal love of indulging in and making food isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In this article, I will highlight some excellent choices for that day when you decide it’s time to improve your kitchen skills, and for those brave few, become a professional. Please kindly note that this list is by no means comprehensive, as space permits us to cover only three schools this time.
The Culinary Institute of America
The Culinary Institute of America, also known as the CIA, is among the most well-known culinary colleges in the United States. Why, you ask? Among other things, the CIA has produced many esteemed chefs and food personalities, including Alfred Portale, Roy Yamaguchi, and Anthony Bourdain. Founded in 1946 in Hyde Park, New York, today the institution has expanded its operations and established three branches in St. Helena, California; San Antonio, Texas; and Singapore.
The CIA offers various associate and bachelor’s degrees in the culinary arts, baking, and pastry arts, and culinary science, although the bachelor’s programs are currently offered only in the Hyde Park campus. It also offers professional, more advanced courses to students who have past experiences in the culinary world. In addition, the CIA has several short-term programs for both professionals and amateurs alike such as the Accelerated Wine and Beverage Certification Program and five-day Food Enthusiast “boot camps” on Asian cuisine and hors d’oeuvre.
To enroll in their formal programs, the CIA requires that applicants have some relevant experience in the food service business. This requirement can be fulfilled by working or volunteering in a restaurant for six months or completing 12 credits of college-level courses, at least half of which are hands-on culinary courses. Interested just for a visit? You should check out some of the CIA’s restaurants in their U.S. locations. American Bounty would be a good choice for lunch or dinner, or stop by Apple Pie Bakery Café for dessert.
Johnson & Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts
Johnson & Wales University (JWU) is a private career-oriented institution located in Providence, Rhode Island; North Miami, Florida; Denver, Colorado; and Charlotte, North Carolina. First established as a business school in 1914, JWU now has four schools on its four campuses, including, of course, the College of Culinary Arts (CoCA). While all of its four campuses offer a range of associate and bachelor’s programs, JWU’s Providence campus arguably offers the most comprehensive ones.
Some of its degree offerings include Food Service Entrepreneurship and Culinary Nutrition. What really distinguishes JWU’s CoCA from the CIA is the fact that it offers a more, perhaps, “conventional” college experience since it is part of a university that is made up of approximately 16,000 students enrolled in its business, engineering, and technology programs, and has its own athletic programs, Greek life, and study abroad programs.
One of JWU’s plus points is its hands-on approach in “non-campus” kitchens. JWU operates three hotels, including the Johnson & Wales Inn and Conference Center in Seekonk, Massachusetts, particularly for the training of its food service management and culinary arts students. In addition, all of the culinary and hospitality programs at JWU focus on hands-on experience. Food service for all four campuses, for example, is prepared by some of the university’s culinary students.
Le Cordon Bleu
Le Cordon Bleu, meaning “blue ribbon” in French, is the biggest hospitality educational institution in the world, best known for its reputation in culinary arts education. The institution first opened as an elite cooking school in Paris, France in 1895, and now has grown into a worldwide network of 35 schools spread across five continents. As of now, there are 16 affiliated Le Cordon Bleu campuses across the United States, and even online culinary classes and degree programs. Luckily, one of them is within “close” proximity to Tufts: say hello to Le Cordon Bleu Cambridge located at 215 First Street.
Le Cordon Bleu Cambridge is a private two-year college, accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology. Its program offerings are Certificate Culinary Arts, Associate Degree in Culinary Arts, and Certificate in Baking and Pastry Arts. While their offerings may be rather limited when compared to CIA and JWU’s, students benefit a lot from small classes and a curriculum that emphasizes theoretical concepts and industry-relevant general education courses.
Not to mention that the Cambridge campus features a student-staffed, American fine-dining restaurant called Technique that seems excellent. On my bucket list already!