Nowadays, culinary skills are considered a high art, and a reputable chef is just as demanded as a pop star. However, to get to the top of the culinary Olympus in today's competitive environment, you need professional knowledge and skills.
Universities worldwide have started to introduce study programmes that focus on Culinary Arts or Food Sciences and they are available for undergraduate as well as postgraduate study. So receiving top academic training to become a chef has become widely accessible.
Whether you want to prepare for a career as a chef, head cook, chocolatier, oenologist or any type of food specialist, it’s best that you go right to the source and learn from the best in the field.
Where are the best places to acquire professional chef knowledge?
Chefs, restaurant critics and authors of numerous recipes were all educated at culinary schools abroad, especially those in France, Italy and Switzerland.
Study haute cuisine in French cooking schools
The art of French cooking is famous for being exquisite in terms of both preparation and design. Studying French cuisine in a French school will give you access to uncover the secrets of fine-dining chefs.
You will learn to build or refine culinary skills with essential cooking techniques like: professional knife handling, preparing stocks, sauces, forcemeats and doughs, and gain advanced knowledge of French culinary terms and definitions.
Additionally, you will also receive instruction on safety, hygiene, food presentation, the importance of colour, taste, and texture combinations.
You will receive training from chefs that worked in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the world, many of them Michelin-starred.
French cooking schools also include special Pastry and Artisan Breads programmes.
- Groupe ESA - École Supérieure D'Agriculture D'Angers;
- ISA Lille - School of Life Sciences and Bioengineering;
- Ferrieres School.
Become a pizza and pasta specialist in Italian cooking schools
Though Italian cuisine seems fairly simple, recreating the typical pizza dough or making home-made pasta is no piece of cake unless you are introduced to the specific Italian practices in the kitchen.
Apart from the emblematic pizza and pasta, Italian cuisine is based on a Mediterranean diet, and fresh ingredients, but knowing how to combine them is certainly an art.
In many Italian schools, you will find degrees that focus on mastering the Italian pastry dishes or creating the famous Italian gelato.
Combine traditions of European culinary schools in Switzerland
Switzerland is well known for the tradition of first-class service combined with the art of international cuisines. Before earning his laurels, the future most famous Italian chef, Marchesi, went to Switzerland to seek knowledge. The renowned chef Sergio Schoener, awarded with a Michelin star, finished the French cooking school and went to study in Switzerland, where he obtained a federal diploma, giving him the right to be not only a chef, but also the director of the restaurant.
The training program at Swiss academies combines traditions of many European culinary schools, including the Italian and French ones. The courses are taught in English, thought German, French and Italian are also a part of the program, significantly expanding the possibilities of future employment.
Practice cooking skills using modern kitchen facilities
Apart from learning specific cooking skills, you may take courses in:
- new cooking technologies
- business administration and management
- information technology
Culinary arts and food sciences programmes may also include field trips to local restaurants and an internship in a restaurant. Additionally, universities also organise various events inviting worldwide food experts to teach workshops and recruit employees. Employment services within schools usually assists students at the beginning of their employment as well.
All academy lecture rooms, restaurants and kitchens form an ultra-modern infrastructure with professional equipment, the latest training tools and technologies. Students live and study at the hotels well-adapted to suit school needs. Most university campus offer a demonstration kitchen, a modern training kitchen, a kitchen for pastries and cakes cooking, as well as a kitchen for cooking different training menus ‘à la carte’, featuring state-of-the-art equipment.
Many universities also feature a restaurant for 80-100 seats, which is another excellent place for receiving a young chefs’ training.
Features of culinary training programmes
One of the particular features of a training programme is that all practical classes are held in small groups. This ensures personal involvement of the instructors (world-class chefs), who apply their skills in the demonstration kitchen. Today's food industry is in need of individuals with distinct personalities, and small classes allow future chefs to develop their own creativity.
The best way to start a career is to put theoretical knowledge into practice. Once you will complete your degree, you can partake in a six-month paid training at prestigious restaurants, as well as four- and five-star hotels. In Switzerland, for instance, an intern chef can expect to be paid at least 2 200 Swiss francs per month.
In addition to practical skills in the kitchen, all students are trained in modern management, management techniques, and development of leadership skills, necessary for top leading positions. Of course, one can also get a certificate for “sweet” disciplines, namely, baking and pastry arts, including design and manufacturing of chocolate products, where the Swiss confectioners are second-to-none.
So if you’d like to learn how to create a plate of food into a work of art, start looking at Master degree in culinary arts!