Where to study culinary?
Australia is a popular destination for culinary students because of its gastronomic food recognition with four of Australia’s restaurants making into the World’s Best 100. The UK is a good place to study culinary management as it boasts a disproportionate number of world’s great hotels and Michelin star restaurants. Or if students do not want to live far away from home, then Malaysia is a great choice with many culinary schools being supported by international professional advisory boards from highly recognised accredited industry bodies; such as the Chefs Association of Malaysia (CAM) and World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS).
When choosing a culinary school, there are a couple of things you should consider:
i) Do your research
Not all schools are equal. Explore their modern facilities, their chef instructors and inquire about their training programme. Try to attend Open Days so that you can meet the staff, existing students and graduates to clear your doubts.
ii) Offered courses
Are you interested in baking and pastry arts? Do you want to focus on Italian cuisine? Are you looking for a Cordon Bleu certification? Different schools offer different types of courses and majors, so you need to have at least a small idea of your focus of study before you select a school. If you are still unsure, select a school that offers a variety of interchangeable courses. This way you can switch your focus after a few classes. Or look up University of Derby that does a joint honours of Culinary Arts and Hospitality or a BA (Hons) Professional Culinary Management.
iii) A functioning student restaurant in university
Training for a chef is important. Many executive chefs do not employ culinary graduates who have no kitchen experience, even if they had the best classical culinary school education. The University of West London runs the Pillars, a fine dining restaurant, where students learn the fine art of fine service and culinary practices.
iv) Be realistic – what the Food Network channel does not tell you
You do not enter the work place as chef. You start off being a pastry assistant or pastry cook. It takes about five years of cooking experience to become a sous chef, who is in charge of the cooks and other tasks that the chef assigns.
Whilst your classical French culinary training may cost $50,000, you are essentially a cook making $9 an hour, which is about $19,000 a year. You will work long hours; through nights, weekends and holidays. You will be standing all day.
v) Cooking is discipline
Can you take orders or handle being barked at? Sometimes cooking school may seem like a military school instead. Chefs will bark orders and make students stand at attention whilst uniforms are inspected and appearances must be perfect or students risk losing points that would affect grades.
vi) Who are the school’s graduates?
Julia Child played a key role in food television and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu France. This gives the Le Cordon Bleu certificates a good name, and is well received amongst employers.
vii) Kitchen facilities
Is there enough kitchen space for you to have enough hands on experience? What is the equipment like?
Find out where the school is located. Are there enough restaurants in the area to let you work while you learn? Sunway University Malaysia offers Diploma in Culinary Arts and the campus is smacked right in the heart of the city with loads of restaurants and cafes in the surrounding area.
If you are not convinced, read why you should study for a culinary degree and find out what traits you need to study culinary.
An aspiring journalist with a passion for investigative journalistic work. Also a self-declared masterchef.