“Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors - it's how you combine them that sets you apart.” - Wolfgang Puck
Would you like to learn how to cook?
Quite a few people enjoy cooking for their family but others want to take it further.
So how can you get started in the foodservice industry?
There are plenty of different jobs to take.
In this article, we’re going to look at the best cooking schools in the country, why you should attend a cooking school, and how you can choose the right school for you.
Why Attend a Cooking School?
You need to learn how to become a chef. Whether you’re still in school, thinking about changing careers, or already working in the foodservice industry, there are cooking schools that you can attend to launch your career as a chef.
If you want to work in a kitchen, choosing a reputable cooking school or university will not only help you learn the necessary skills but also help to improve your CV.
Cooking schools will offer traditional training for chefs but there are also other courses budding chefs can attend. There are training courses for specific types of cooking as well as internships and apprenticeships.
The most reputable courses a very expensive. You can pay thousands for a course.
So why should you choose the best schools?
In addition to having the best reputation, these schools often teach the same skills that the very best chefs use every day.
They’ll also have the best facilities and equipment for aspiring chefs to make use of.
The University of West London
Just because it doesn't have “School of Culinary Arts” in the name, it doesn't mean you can't study culinary arts. Their culinary arts programs are fantastic for anyone wanting to work in the foodservice industry, hospitality industry, or food service management.
You can learn about restaurant management, knife skills, menu planning, cost control, etc. Aspiring chefs, bakers, and sommeliers should all look into studying a culinary degree here.
The University of West London has campuses in Ealing and Brentford in Greater London and Reading. It was founded in 1860 as the Lady Byron School before later becoming the Ealing College of Higher Education.
The undergraduate courses are a way for students to develop careers in food production management, product development, food and beverage management, education and training, and food and equipment promotion and writing.
For budding chefs, there are courses in culinary arts including the BSc in Culinary Arts Management, Food Business Management, or Nutrition and Food Management.
Additionally, there's also the MA in Food Business Management postgraduate course for those who want to take their studies even further or apprenticeships and further education courses.
Westminster Kingsway College
Westminster Kingsway College has been around since 1910 as the Victoria Centre. This was the UK's first hospitality school, too!
Notable alumni include Ainsley Harriott, Jamie Oliver, Antony Worrall Thompson, and Sophie Wright. Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols also attended but his cooking skills aren't worth writing home about.
In terms of Hospitality and Culinary Arts, there's the Young Chefs' Academy for students aged between 13-16 that runs for 5 weeks from the start of September, November, and January. There's also the 6-week Modular Escoffier Diploma, Grand Escoffier Diploma, an extension of the former, and the Advanced Grand Escoffier Diploma, a course that runs for a year.
As for degrees, there are bachelor's degrees in Culinary Arts and Business Management, Hospitality and Tourism Management, or Culinary Health and Nutrition.
The courses at Westminster Kingsway College can lead into careers as a restaurant manager, artisan baker, sous-chef, chocolatier, front of house manager, sommelier, head chef, mixologist, barista, waiter/waitress, butcher, hospitality supervisors, hotel manager, food manufacturer.
Le Cordon Bleu London
The history of the Cordon Bleu goes beyond just the training it offers. It begins with a cooking magazine in the 19th century. In 1985, Marthe Distel created the La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu magazine. It evolved into cooking classes. Initially, they were just for readers of the magazine, but others became increasingly interested in them. The cooking school was born.
This private school teaches different aspects of cooking including oenology, baking, management, and hospitality.
What makes the school so attractive?
Short courses for those wanting to change careers who don’t have the time to go back to school for an extended period. The school has a global reputation and there are schools all over the world. France, Canada, China, Japan, Spain, Australia, and many others. The campuses are very multicultural.
The tuition is very expensive. However, the shorter courses are a way to spend less money.
The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts
This culinary school comes highly recommended and is one of the best culinary schools in the country. If you're after an apprenticeship or interested in their reputable Master of Culinary Arts degree, this is a place you should look into.
This master's degree is a great accolade that is awarded every four years to chefs, pastry chefs, and restaurant managers who've exhibited exceptional skills and abilities in their culinary career.
Choosing the Right School
These are some good options for anyone wanting to learn how to cook in the UK.
How can you choose what you need? So how can you make the right choice?
Firstly, make a list of the schools that you’re interested in and what they offer in terms of training. Some schools will focus on one type of cooking, for example. Have a look at the subjects taught and the teachers working there.
You may need something more vocational than theoretical, for example. Management, culinary arts, etc., there are tonnes of possibilities.
You might also want to do internships or apprenticeships to learn on the job. This is great for those who learn better by doing and you’ll also be able to gain experience while you learn. It’s much easier to get your first job in the industry if you already have experience.
Don’t hesitate to contact former students to find out more about the course and the school and how they found it.
Finally, think about the cost. There are ways to reduce costs. Look at what each course offers and how much they cost.
In any case, listen to your gut!
If you want to become a professional chef, you don't necessarily have to study at a culinary institute. You could always get your culinary training outside of degree programs thanks to private tutoring. While this may mean that you need to prove yourself more because you won't have a qualification attesting to your culinary skills, it does mean you can learn the exact skills you want and need to learn.
If you need to learn more about cooking, consider getting private tuition from one of the talented tutors on Superprof. There are many cooking tutors on the platform and there are three main types of tutorial available: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials.
Group tutorials include a single tutor and several students. While this dynamic means you won't get as much attention from your private tutor, you can save money by sharing the cost of your tutor's time with other students.
Face-to-face tutorials are just between you and the tutor and are tailored to the student. They tend to cost more because they're a bespoke service but they're also hugely cost-effective. However, for hands-on subjects like cooking, these may be your best bet to learn more about the field. After all, your tutor can adapt each lesson to particular skills that you need to know.
Finally, online tutorials are taught via webcam. With no travel costs and the ability to schedule more tutorials per week, the tutor can charge a more competitive rate for their tutorials. While this type of tutorial isn't usually recommended for non-academic subjects, if you've ever watched a cooking show or a YouTube video on how to cook, you'll know that you don't necessarily need someone in the room there with you to help you learn how to cook something!
Don't forget that a lot of the tutors on Superprof also offer the first hour of tuition for free!